Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 12, 2021

What We’re Reading


SILWAN: Jerusalem court [for 6 months] freezes razing of some [but not all] Palestinian homes,

“A lawyer said Wednesday a Jerusalem court ruling that dozens of home demolitions in a flashpoint Palestinian neighborhood should be frozen for six months was ‘progress,’ but not ‘victory.’ Israel had ordered the demolition of around 100 homes in Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood on the edge of the Old City in east Jerusalem, claiming they were built illegally on public land. Monday’s court order froze most of those demolition orders until February 2022, while also allowing 16 homes to be razed immediately.”

SHEIKH JARRAH: In Sheikh Jarrah, anonymous actors and an absent state have created a powder keg,

“Sheikh Jarrah is, in addition to its deeper meaning and significance to each side, also simply a property dispute born in the social and legal chaos of 1948. But for the past two decades, it’s been at the heart of a wholly different, almost entirely private campaign by ideological actors to make Palestinian homeownership in Jerusalem tenuous. That campaign carries consequences for Palestinians, Israelis, and Israel’s policy options both in Jerusalem and on the world stage. And the Israeli government’s dogged indifference has granted private and often unknown ideologues the power to determine the timing and scale of any fallout. ‘We claim sovereignty in East Jerusalem,’ complained one official. ‘We should start acting like it.’” Also see: Two Sheikh Jarrah residents summoned by police for protesting detention of a fellow neighborhood resident (WAFA)

BEIT HANINA: Jewish claim of land ownership in occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood displaces five Palestinian families,

“Five Palestinian families were displaced today after the West Jerusalem Israeli municipality forced them to demolish their homes located in Beit Hanina neighborhood in northern East Jerusalem claiming the land the houses were built on was owned by Jews since before the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, according to witnesses.” Also see: Palestinian family demolishes their home to prevent Israeli settler from taking it (Al Anadolu)

81 Palestinian homes demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem in 2021,

“Israel has torn down more than 81 buildings in East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year, a Palestinian official said on Wednesday, Anadolu reports. ‘The escalation of demolitions has been accompanied by an increase in the risks of evacuating hundreds of Palestinians from their homes where they have lived for decades in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and Silwan town for the benefit of Israeli settlers,’ Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Fadi Al-Hadmi said in a statement released by his office. His remarks came during his meeting with representatives of South American countries accredited to the State of Palestine at his office during which he informed them of the ‘serious situation’ in Jerusalem.

Temple Mount bridge tender applicants required to promise secrecy - report,

“A tender for the renovation of the bridge to the Mughrabi Gate through which Jews enter the Temple Mount requires applicants to sign a non-disclosure agreement to not publish any details about the tender, including the fact that the tender exists, Yediot Aharonot reported on Thursday. According to the report, contractors toured the site last month and the main renovation work involves replacing the wood of the bridge. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation told Yediot Aharonot that they are operating according to the instructions of the Prime Minister’s Office.” Also see: Israeli contractors sign ‘confidentiality clause’ in tender to build new al-Aqsa bridge (Middle East Eye)

In East Jerusalem, a Trip to the Israeli Unemployment Office Is a Long, Hot, Crowded Ordeal,

“A member of a workers’ group in the Arab east of the city had to wait nearly four hours before seeing a clerk. In the Jewish west, the visit was finished in an hour and 40 minutes.”

Occupation, Settlements, Apartheid

To Stave Off Opposition to Settlement Expansion, Bennett Gives Rare Approval for 800 Palestinian Homes,

“Israel has given initial approval to advance construction of 863 housing units in Palestinian villages in Area C of the West Bank for the first time in years, in a move led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to also push through plans for more than 2,000 settlement homes. An Israeli official said the Wednesday announcement on both parts of the plan was meant to legitimize settlement expansion, preparing for opposition by left-wing coalition partners. It is also seen by government officials as a ‘calculated risk’ vis-à-vis the Biden administration…This is the first large-scale plan promoted by Israel for Palestinian construction in Area C. In 2017 a plan for 5,000 housing units around the city of Qalqilya, in the northern West Bank, was filed for public comments, but hasn’t been promoted further since then. In 2019 the cabinet gave its approval for 700 housing units for Palestinians, but according to Peace Now, eventually only six of them were given final approval.”


Also see:

Palestine slams Israel settlement project around Ibrahimi Mosque,

“Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh yesterday condemned Israel’s plans to expropriate Palestinian lands and expand Jewish settlements around the Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied Hebron, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Shtayyeh called on ‘the international community to take urgent action to stop these violations and stop work at the Ibrahimi Mosque.’ He also called on international human rights organisations and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to condemn the Israeli violations since the mosque is listed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.” Also see: Palestinians protesting Israeli work near the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron attacked by soldiers, three detained (WAFA)

Killing & Arresting Palestinians

With rise in Palestinian deaths, IDF head says no room for troops’ ‘negligence’,

“IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi told troops on Wednesday that the military would not tolerate reckless disregard for human life, amid an uptick in the number of Palestinians killed by soldiers in the West Bank in recent months. Since May, more than 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops — soldiers and border guards — including in a number of cases with questionable circumstances, most notably the shooting of a 12-year-old boy in what the Israel Defense Forces described as an apparent case of misidentification. Kohavi appeared to address those recent events on Wednesday night in a speech marking Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs becoming head of the IDF Central Command. In his remarks, Kohavi acknowledged the difficulties of operating within a civilian area and said the military would support soldiers who make mistakes, but would not accept ‘negligence.’”


Also see:

Palestinian succumbs to his wounds from Israeli gunfire,

“A Palestinian man on Wednesday succumbed to his wounds a week after he was shot by Israeli forces in Jenin city, northern West Bank. In a statement, the Health Ministry said: ‘Dia al-Din Sabarini, 25, was martyred today of his wounds from Israeli bullets sustained last week in Jenin.’ Sabarini was injured along with four others on Aug. 3 when the Israeli forces raided the city and clashed with the Palestinians. Sabarini’s wounds were critical and he was transferred to a hospital for treatment in Nablus city in northern West Bank. Since this year till July 26, Israel killed 48 Palestinians and injured more than 11,000 in the West Bank, according to figures by OCHA, the UN humanitarian coordination office in the Palestinian occupied territory.”

Palestinian re-arrested 24 hours after his release from Israeli prison after serving 16 years behind bars,

“The Israeli occupation authorities re-arrested today a Palestinian man 24 hours after his release from prison after serving 16 years behind bars, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS). It said Hamza Halayqa, from al-Shyoukh town in the south of the West Bank, was released yesterday after completing his 16-year prison term for resisting the occupation. However, the occupation forces raided his house at dawn today, searched it thoroughly using police dogs, and then took him to prison.”

Israeli occupation forces detain 11 Palestinians in West Bank raids,

“Israeli occupation forces today detained 11 Palestinians from various parts of the West Bank, according to local and security sources. They said Israeli forces detained a Palestinian and seized his vehicle in Umm al-Rihan village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. While in the village, the soldiers broke into three houses, interrogated and held their owners for several hours. Elsewhere in the northern West Bank, the Israeli military stormed Tubas city where the soldiers detained two brothers after breaking into their family house, as reported by the manager of the Palestine Prisoner Society (PPS) office in Tubas, Kamal Bani-Odeh.”


Rights group says Hamas rockets at Israel a clear war crime,

“Human Rights Watch on Thursday said the thousands of rockets fired by the Palestinian militant group Hamas during the 11-day war with Israel ‘violated the laws of war and amount to war crimes.’ The New York-based rights group investigated Hamas rocket attacks that killed 12 civilians in Israel, as well as a misfired rocket that killed seven Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip. HRW has repeatedly come under fire by Israel and its supporters over reports accusing Israel of war crimes against the Palestinians as well as apartheid and persecution. But in this report it agreed with most legal experts — and Israel itself — that indiscriminate rocket fire from Palestinian population centers directed at civilian areas is a violation of international law.” Also see: HRW: Gaza groups committed war crimes, killed Palestinians with failed launches (Times of Israel)

Erdan calls for UNRWA funding freeze until independent investigation completed,

“Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations Gilad Erdan sent a letter Wednesday to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, after UN officials were banned by Hamas from inspecting an UNRWA school in Gaza.”


Also see:

Shortages in anaesthesia drugs may stop operations in Gaza,

“The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza has warned that emergency and scheduled surgical operations in public hospitals may be forced to stop as a result of a shortage in nitrous oxide used for general anaesthesia.The Israeli occupation’s stifling siege on the enclave has prevented the entry of this vital medical equipment since the beginning of the year, the ministry said.”

Inside the Green Line

Israel: Knesset member says parts of Bedouin community 'pollute our country',

“Knesset member and chairman of right-wing Israeli party Otzma Yehudit has described Bedouin citizens in the Negev Desert as ‘dirty’ and said that they ‘pollute our country’, Israel Hayom reported on Wednesday. Itamar Ben-Gvir MK was commenting on reports about large amounts of rubbish in the Negev, including domestic, construction and industrial waste. Although the report and Israeli officials did not blame the Bedouin Arab citizens of Israel for the waste in the Negev, the parliamentarian decided otherwise. ‘Enough is enough,’ he said.” Also see: Government report details how Israel has failed Bedouin community (Al Monitor)

Arab Leaders Skeptical as Israel's Top Cop Seeks Out More Arab Officers Amid Crime Surge,

“As Israel police roll out new department to combat surge in violent crime in Arab communities and aim to increase number of Arabs on the force, many prominent Arab voices contend the approach is inadequate and unsuitable.”

Coerced into silence: The reality of being a Palestinian doctor in an Israeli hospital,

“We cannot continue to uncritically celebrate Israeli hospitals as ‘islands of sanity’ simply because Palestinians and Israelis work there together. Palestinians and Israelis also work together in the factories in West Bank settlements, and study together in Ariel University in the illegal settlement of Ariel, and even collaborate within the Israeli army. Their shared workspace does not make these places beacons of hope.”

Palestinian Authority/PLO

Palestinian journalists claim pressure by PA amid crackdown,

“Palestinian journalists in the occupied West Bank are facing increased harassment, arrests and violence from the Palestinian Authority since the death of activist Nizar Banat in PA custody, according to reporters and media rights groups…’Palestine witnessed a wide wave of serious attacks against journalists and media freedoms,’ said the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) in its July monthly report. ‘[June] witnessed a dangerous and remarkable development, as the Palestinian violations, in a rare case, exceeded the Israeli attacks in terms of number,’ reported MADA. MADA recorded 69 violations against Palestinian journalists by different Palestinian parties in the West Bank and Gaza in June, including 17 incidents of physical assault and two arrests, 11 confiscation and destruction of journalists’ equipment, 21 incidents of denial of coverage, eight threatening cases and seven serious defamation cases, in addition to several other violations.”

Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority's succession dilemma,

“Uncertainty is a keyword characterising the state of affairs in Palestine, especially since the signing of the Oslo Accords and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the early 1990s. One of the hot questions that remains unresolved for a decade now is the uncertainty surrounding the succession of Mahmoud Abbas, the octogenarian president of the Ramallah-based PA.”


Israeli, American militaries tighten air-defense cooperation,

“According to Charles B. Perkins, director for US-Israel Security Policy at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, while the two militaries have a long record of cooperation and coordination in joint exercises and air-missile defense planning, ‘this new agreement and the decision to publicly disclose it takes place within the context of some significant recent trends.’” Israel, US air force hold first-of-kind aerial drill (Jerusalem Post)


Not Just NSO: Israel and Morocco Cybersecurity Ties Grow Closer,

“For a month now, Israeli cybersecurity teams and their counterparts in Morocco have been cooperating in the field of defensive cyber operations, the result of an agreement signed between the countries in early July.”

Canada’s Awz Ventures raises $82.5 million for a joint fund with the Israeli Ministry of Defence,

“The joint endeavor aims to provide Israel with new security technology, but will also seek to commercialize it.”

From Middle East to India, women ‘violated’ in Pegasus phone hack,

“Dozens of women across India, the Middle East and North Africa who were likely targeted for surveillance by governments using Pegasus spyware are now at a heightened risk of being blackmailed or harassed, tech experts and victims say. Developed by Israeli tech firm NSO, Pegasus turns a mobile phone into a surveillance device – using its microphone and cameras and accessing and exporting messages, photos and emails without the user’s knowledge.”

UN experts urge freeze on surveillance tech sales amid Israeli spyware scandal,

“UN experts called Thursday for an international moratorium on the sale of surveillance technology until regulations are implemented to protect human rights following an Israeli spyware scandal. An international media investigation reported last month that several governments used the Pegasus malware, created by Israeli firm NSO Group, to spy on activists, journalists and politicians. Pegasus can switch on a phone’s camera or microphone and harvest its data. ‘It is highly dangerous and irresponsible to allow the surveillance technology and trade sector to operate as a human rights-free zone,’ the United Nations human rights experts said in a statement. The statement is signed by three special rapporteurs on rights and a working group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other businesses.”