Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 13, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, Apartheid

Israel reduced settler housing plans by 39% to appease US, source says,

“Initial intention was to advance plans for 3,623 homes, but for diplomatic reasons 1,400 units were dropped from the agenda of the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria, a settler source told The Jerusalem Post. The source added that, with an eye to Washington, council plans to advance 2,223 new settler homes was deliberately linked to an unusual Civil Administration hearing next week on the authorization of 863 Palestinian homes in Area C of the West Bank. “We have to be sensitive to the Americans,” a senior diplomatic source said in explaining the need for a balanced approach on Area C housing. “In the end there is a balanced package that shows that the council is routinely meeting and disproves any claims that there is a “construction freeze,” the senior diplomatic source said.”


Also See

Israeli forces fire tear gas, stun grenades after Ibrahimi Mosque Friday prayers,

“Israeli forces fires tear gas and stun grenades as Palestinians came out from occupied Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque, following Friday prayers. Palestinians had been urged to attend Palestine’s second-holiest mosque for Friday prayers this week to help prevent Israeli interference in the historic site, Palestine’s official Wafa news agency said. Israel is carrying out efforts to build, among other things, a lift exclusive to Jewish settlers at the West Bank site.” Also See – “Occupation forces attack worshipers in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque” (WAFA)

Israeli settlers storm archaeological sites in Hebron-district town,

Israeli settlers today stormed archaeological sites in Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, according to local sources. Muhammad Awad, a local media activist, told WAFA that scores of settlers, under military protection, barged their way into the sites, adjacent to Karmei Zur colonial settlement and extending to the Gush Etzion colonial settlement bloc. He voiced public concerns about the Israeli occupation authorities’ intentions to seize more land in the area to make room for settlement expansion.”

Palestinian bus driver wounded in settler attack in Jerusalem,

A Palestinian bus driver today sustained wounds in a settler attack in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, according to local sources. Muhammad al-Qaq, a resident of Silwan, confirmed that a settler brutally assaulted the driver as the latter was driving a bus in the neighborhood, inflicting cuts in his face and neck. The 47-year-old driver was rushed to a hospital for treatment.”

Protection of Civilians Report | 27 July – 9 August 2021,

  • Israeli forces shot and killed four Palestinians, including an 11-year-old boy.
  • Overall, Israeli forces injured 764 Palestinians across the West Bank.
  • Israeli forces carried out 92 search-and-arrest operations and arrested 115 Palestinians, including 11 children, across the West Bank.
  • On 6 August, Palestinian armed groups in Gaza launched incendiary balloons, which according to Israeli media, sparked four fires in Israel.
  • Also in Gaza, on at least ten occasions, Israeli forces opened warning fire near the perimeter fence and off the coast, ostensibly to enforce access restrictions.
  • The Israeli authorities demolished, seized or forced people to demolish 57 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits, displacing 97 people, including 67 children, and affecting the livelihoods of 240 other people.
  • People known or believed to be Israeli settlers vandalized at least 40 Palestinian-owned trees, and five vehicles across the West Bank.
  • People known or believed to be Palestinians threw stones at and injured three Israeli settlers.

Details of Court Decision in Sheikh Jarrah Eviction Case,

“The court’s decision demonstrates once again that currently the judges are very much focusing on their proposal of protected tenancy and are reluctant to consider other issues; Certainly, it does not seem that the judges are currently willing to address the root of the problem which is the Israeli government’s ignoring of the rights afforded to the Palestinian families on the homes the Jordanian government built for them in the 1950’s. Ir Amim’s previous alert pointed to the fact that “protected tenancy” status will not prevent Nachalat Shimon from acting to evict the families.”

Opinion | Settler Violence and the Military's Complicity Can't Be Blamed on a Single Israeli General,

“While Yadai bears direct responsibility for what happens in the territories, the disregard for human life long preceded him. It was not Yadai who decided to permit the use of .22 caliber Ruger bullets against protesters, even when funeral after funeral proved the absurdity of calling them “non-lethal.” It was not Yadai who conceived the army’s craven, cowardly policy toward the “hilltop youth,” the Kahanists of Hebron or the settler leadership in general. He was preceded by a long list of generals and politicians, many of whom still serve in positions superior to his. It was the chief of staff and the defense minister who chose to say nothing when a settler was filmed firing at Palestinians with a military weapon. They chose to say nothing when soldiers stood alongside masked settlers who fired live rounds at Palestinians; and when soldiers were filmed standing alongside settlers setting fire to fields, throwing rocks, attacking with iron bars. The soldiers are not the only ones who stood by in these situations. So did their commanders and their commanders’ commanders. Yadai is just the highest one in the chain.”

Analysis | Why Israel’s Military Chief Took His Time in Calling for Restraint Over Killings of Palestinians,

“The increase in the number of Palestinians killed this year – almost twice as many as in every other recent year – is due to a combination of circumstances, not all of which were within the exclusive responsibility of the head of Central Command.”

The Israeli right tried to manage the conflict. Bennett wants to ‘shrink’ it,

“Espousing the “shrinking” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not only disconnected from reality, it is downright dangerous. Firstly, it propagates the assumption that the conflict is a natural phenomenon that exists as an inevitable result of Jewish presence between the river and the sea, or because Palestinians “do not recognize our presence here,” and therefore there is no solution and the best we can do is minimize the conflict’s influence. In effect, Goodman’s approach isn’t about “managing” the conflict à la Netanyahu — it’s about managing the occupation. Moreover, the idea blatantly ignores the fact that the “conflict” itself is vastly unequal. One side has a state, an army, and national and civil rights, while the other side has none of these. Shrinking the conflict therefore assumes that the “natural” state of the land is one that inherently affords privileges to Jews, while forcing Palestinians to remain in an inferior position ad infinitum. The danger also lies in the fact that the theory may be taken up by those who, at least in principle, oppose the occupation and support the idea of two states but do not believe it will be accomplished any time soon, such as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.”


Palestinian Rockets in May Killed Civilians in Israel, Gaza,

““Palestinian armed groups during the May fighting flagrantly violated the laws-of-war prohibition on indiscriminate attacks by launching thousands of unguided rockets towards Israeli cities,” said Eric Goldstein, acting Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The failure of both Hamas authorities and the Israeli government to provide accountability for alleged war crimes by their forces highlights the essential role of the International Criminal Court.””


More on this story

Israeli navy targets Gaza fishermen, damages boat,

The Israeli navy today targeted fishermen offshore Gaza city and caused damage to one boat, according to WAFA correspondent. He said that the fishermen were sailing only six nautical miles offshore the city when Israeli naval boats opened gunfire and water hoses towards them, causing damage to at least a boat.”

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.”

Gaza businesses stand on shattered ground months after Israel attacks,

““The Israeli authorities have continued their procedures against the economic sector in Gaza even after the offensive. Raw materials have been prevented from entering Gaza. Moreover, they have imposed restrictions on the export of products ever since the Israeli blockade began in 2007. Gaza’s economic structure is distorted due to the Israeli blockade and successive offensives. The load from the consumer sector now largely exceeds that of the production sector, although Gaza’s market used to compete in the international market before the imposition of the blockade,” he said.”

The Palestinians

Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority's succession dilemma,

“There is no doubt that the struggle for succession will be perilous. The absence of succession mechanisms, the dissolution of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), and the unwillingness of Fatah leaders to call general elections all further complicate the uncertainty. Power-hungry candidates will likely resort to mobilising their internal bases while ensuring substantial external support…Despite the uncertainty, one thing remains clear: a chaotic power transition is coming. Given the animosity among many possible successors,  and if a satisfactory compromise is not reached, violence could be inevitable. In this case, Israel would exploit this dynamic and support whoever might be willing to offer further concessions, while preventing violence from spilling over to areas under its control.”

The U.S.

'Putting Her Life at Risk': Ilhan Omar Staff Slams AIPAC Over Aggressive Campaign Ads,

“The anti-Omar ad reads “Stand WITH America. Stand AGAINST Terrorists.” The image of the post states: “For Ilhan Omar, there is no difference between America and the Taliban. Between Israel and Hamas. Between democracies and terrorists,” adding a link declaring “Tell Rep. Omar: Condemn terrorists, not America.” Omar’s communications director, Jeremy Slevin, tweeted that “the language AIPAC uses in paid ads to smear and vilify [Omar] is virtually identical to the language used in death threats she gets. Make no mistake: AIPAC is putting Rep. Omar’s life at risk with repeated Islamophobic attack ads.””

AIPAC doubles down on ad about US Rep. Omar,

“The controversy continued Thursday when AIPAC stood by the ad. In response to a critical tweet by Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the pro-Israel lobby tweeted, “Inciting hate by demonizing Israel and spreading vicious, dangerous lies about our democratic ally Israel doesn’t advance the prospects for peace.” Omar, who is Muslim, is a member of the self-styled “squad” of relatively young and progressive members of the Congress. The group, which also includes Tlaib, is known for its vocal criticism of Israel. The Israel-Palestine issue is a cause of divisions within the Democratic Party and Americans in general. AIPAC is one of the most prominent pro-Israel organizations in the country.”

Free Speech + Ben & Jerry's

At Risk in Israel’s Backlash Against Ben and Jerry’s? The Right to Protest.,

“Much has been written about Israel’s relentless offensive against the ice cream company. But less has been said about the consequences for Americans’ right to protest if our constitutional right to boycott is gutted per Israel’s requests. As a Palestinian and lawyer supporting those who face a cruel backlash for supporting Palestinian rights, I can tell you that these efforts are only the tip of a larger assault on all of our rights to speak out for justice.”

Normalization & News from the Region

Israel and Morocco agree to full diplomatic normalization,

“Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a press conference on Thursday that Israel and Morocco will move toward full diplomatic normalization by upgrading their diplomatic liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat to full embassies within two months…Lapid also said he’d be traveling to Bahrain in September to inaugurate the Israeli Embassy there. That will be the first official visit by an Israeli foreign minister to the Gulf kingdom.”


More on this story:

Israel says it downed Hezbollah drone that crossed from Lebanon,

“The Israeli military said on Thursday it downed a drone belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah group that crossed into Israeli airspace from Lebanon. In a brief statement, it said the incident occurred on Wednesday. “Our troops monitored and successfully downed the drone,” the military said. “We will continue to operate in order to prevent any attempt to violate Israeli sovereignty.” The statement gave no technical details about the drone, but Israeli media reports said it was unarmed and likely on a reconnaissance mission”

Analysis | Palestinian Groups in Lebanon May Expedite a Clash Between Israel and Hezbollah,

“Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence is gradually starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together, following a serious initial dearth of information. The launches from Lebanon, apart from the last one, were indeed the work of Palestinians, apparently from the region of the refugee camps near Tyre. The suspicion, though, is that this is not just a local squad, but an effort that is connected in some way with Hamas. As early as eight years ago, according to some appraisals, even before Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, Hamas was already forming an infrastructure in the refugee camps in Lebanon that would enable it to launch sporadic rocket fire from the north during a confrontation in the Gaza Strip – something of a second front. Two years later, a senior Hamas figure was wounded in Lebanon when his car blew up, an action that the organization attributed to Israel at the time.”

A year after the Abraham Accords, Biden takes a cautious approach to Arab-Israeli normalisation,

“The Biden administration has so far exercised caution in its response to the Abraham Accords, when possible, not mentioning them by name and preferring to use the term normalisation when referring to diplomatic relations between Israel and Arab states. Additionally, Biden has resumed aid to the Palestinians, which had been halted under his predecessor, and has committed to reopening the Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem, which was shuttered by the overtly pro-Israel Trump administration.”

New from FMEP

FMEP Legislative Round-Up: August 12, 2021,

“Amendments Adopted by the Senate: (NO AID TO PALESTINIAN TERRORIST) SA 3383 – Offered by Scott (R-FL), “To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to preventing terrorist actions against the United States and its allies, and to ensure that United States tax dollars do not benefit terrorist organizations such as Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This is a grandstanding amendment to prevent US funds being spent in a manner that is already forbidden by U.S. law. Also see Scott vs. Menendez (D-NJ) on the Senate floor on the amendment: Scott: “… My amendment will ensure that any money authorized to the territory of Gaza will not end up in the hands of Hamas terrorists and allows for further sanctions against these terrorist groups. This amendment is a commonsense way to protect American tax dollars, stand with our great ally Israel, and to continue our fight against the evils of Hamas terrorism…” Mendendez: “Mr. President, the U.S. Government already has laws in place to prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars from going to terrorist organizations and laws that specifically prevent funds from going to  Hamas and Palestinian Jihad. So this is purely a messaging amendment that does absolutely nothing in practice, but it is a message we can all get behind. And because Democrats stand against terrorist organizations that threaten innocent civilians in Israel and anywhere else in the world, we support the amendment, and we would urge the Senator to take a voice vote.” Passed by a vote of 99-0 (after Scott demanded a roll call vote). Also see: Scott press release; Tweets celebrating this meaningless amendment: ScottScottCramer (R-ND)“”