Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 23, 2021

What We’re Reading


Israeli forces injure dozens of Palestinians marking 1969 arson attack on al-Aqsa Mosque,

“Israeli forces shot and injured more than two dozen Palestinians during a festival in the Gaza Strip commemorating the 52nd anniversary of the 1969 arson attack on the al-Aqsa Mosque. The Gaza-based Palestinian Ministry of Health, in a statement on Saturday, said at least 41 Palestinians were injured in total, including two people who were critically wounded, one of whom has been identified as a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head.”


More on protests over the weekend:

Egypt to close Rafah crossing with Gaza from Monday,

“Egypt is to close the Rafah crossing on its border with the Gaza Strip until further notice on Monday, Egyptian security sources said. According to two Egyptian security sources, the closure was made for security reasons following an escalation on Saturday between Israel and Hamas, with Israeli aircraft striking sites in Gaza after gunfire across Gaza’s border with Israel earlier in the day. Rafah is the sole crossing between Egypt and Gaza, where an Israeli-led blockade has placed severe restrictions on the movement of goods and people for years.” Also See – “Egypt to close Rafah crossing as tensions build in besieged enclave” (Middle East Eye)

Gaza balloons spark at least 9 fires in Israel; another border rally planned,

“Gaza-based Palestinian factions announce plans for a major rally in the southern Gaza Strip near the border with Israel tomorrow, as tensions continue to escalate between Israel, Hamas and Egypt. According to schedules published by Hamas-aligned media, buses will transport demonstrators from across southern Gaza to participate in the rally. The event has been dubbed by its organizers “the Sword of Jerusalem shall not be sheathed,” a reference to Hamas’s name for the May battle between Gaza and Israel. A similar protest in Malika camp east of Gaza City on Saturday left two Gazans and one Israeli soldier in critical condition. The Israeli soldier, Border Police officer Barel Shmueli, was shot by a pistol-wielding Palestinian man at point-blank range near at the Gaza border barrier.”


More on Hamas

Bennett vows Israel will 'settle score' after soldier critically wounded on Gaza border,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday that Israel “will settle the score with those who harm our troops and citizens,” following riots on the Gaza border fence that resulted in a soldier being critically wounded. Twenty-one-year-old Border Police Staff Sergent Barel Hadaria Shmueli was wounded on Saturday when a man shot him in the head with a pistol from point-blank range using a gap in the border wall.”


More on Israel actions in Gaza

Rights group: Israeli strikes on Gaza apparently broke law,

“Israeli airstrikes that demolished four high-rise buildings in the Gaza Strip during the war in May apparently violated international laws of war, a leading international human rights group said Monday, calling on the Israeli military to produce evidence justifying the attacks. Human Rights Watch noted that although no one was harmed in the airstrikes, the attacks damaged neighboring buildings, left dozens of people homeless and destroyed scores of businesses…It was the New York-based group’s third report on the 11-day war. It has previously accused Israel of apparent war crimes for attacks that it said had no clear military targets but killed dozens of civilians. It also has said that Hamas’ rockets were fired indiscriminately at Israeli cities, constituting a war crime. Both sides denied the accusations.”

Latest flare-up of Gaza border violence leaves Israel with few good options,

“While the knee-jerk reaction to the violence on the Gaza border Saturday, including a Palestinian opening fire at point-blank range and critically injuring a border guard, would be for a forceful response against Hamas, it is doubtful such action would lead to calm or have any other desirable effect for Israel. For now, the options facing Israel range from bad to worse, as do those facing Hamas, the terror group that controls the coastal enclave. Hamas is playing with fire for the umpteenth time, looking to bolster its status on the Palestinian street and send a message that it’s not afraid of a fight with Israel.”

The Palestinian Scene

Nearly 30 Human Rights Defenders Arrested by Palestinian Authority in Crackdown on Peaceful Protests,

“28 Palestinians were arrested during peaceful protests by the Palestinian Authority this weekend, as part of an apparent crackdown on human rights defenders. Those arrested included, Khadr Adnan a past political prisoner known for one of the longest hunger strikes in Palestine; Zakaria Mohammed, a poet, and writer; Ubai Alaboudi of the Besan Center; Imad Barghouti, a Professor of Physics; Omar Assaf, a Ramallah city council member, and Fadi Quran, a recognized human rights defender and Campaign Director with Avaaz. Many of those arrested on Saturday and Sunday are still detained, and some have been charged for questionable offences including instigating sectarian strife and slandering higher authorities. The family of Ubai Alaboudi, who has chosen to remain silent under questioning, today made a statement confirming that his detention was extended. The lawyer for Fadi Quran, whose detention was also extended this morning, has confirmed that he was arrested Sunday while walking to his car. He was physically assaulted while being detained and is being held beneath the Ramallah Court Complex. His lawyer describes the condition of his holding cell as dire. He is being forced to sleep on the floor, in an over-populated cell, with an exposed toilet, a smell of sewage, and mould on the walls, in a clear breach of  Covid public health regulations. Fadi Quran, speaking via his lawyer from the courthouse has said: “One of the main questions in my interrogation last night was about why I was handing out Palestinian flags. It’s really unbelievable that as a Palestinian I am being interrogated for holding a Palestinian flag. Making it illegal to hold a Palestinian flag is a tactic that has been used by the Israelis since 1948.  “I remain strong and steadfast in the struggle for liberation. We will continue to do what it takes until every Palestinian lives in dignity and freedom.””

The Palestinian Authority Is Quashing Legal Protests – Again,

“Palestinian Authority security forces arrested on Saturday and Sunday nearly 30 political activists who demanded the prosecution of those responsible for the killing of outspoken PA critic Nizar Banat two months ago. The PA prosecution released on Sunday most of the protesters detained the day before, but eight of them were kept in custody for another 48 hours.”


Also See

West Bank & East Jerusalem

Want to report settler violence? You may soon be under investigation,

““The police officer said: ‘You were on land that belongs to the settlers,’” Sami recalled. “‘That’s not true. The truth is that the settler raided my family’s land and provoked us,’ I replied. ‘You are a liar,’ the police officer answered.” “I was shocked,” continued Sami. “I felt oppressed because I was sure that whatever I would say would not be taken seriously.” At this point, he decided to remain silent for the rest of the interrogation. Eventually, the investigator asked Sami to call a family member to bail him out. “I am not paying anything,” Sami remembers replying, surprised by his own determination. “‘He [the settler] raided our land and started to provoke us. Then you detain me, interrogate me, and now you ask me to pay money to be free. No, I will not.””

Palestinian dressed as IDF soldier caught in West Bank,

“A Palestinian disguised as an IDF soldier was caught carrying a shotgun, knives and pepper spray near settlements in the West Bank on Monday afternoon. He was spotted by local residents walking along Highway 60 between the settlements of Eli and Ma’ale Levona, was apprehended by an IDF patrol and taken for questioning. Hebrew media reported that the man said that he had intended to carry out an attack on Israelis.”

Court refuses to release Palestinian Ahmad Erekat's body,

“Israel’s top court has denied an appeal calling for the release of a Palestinian man who was shot dead by Israeli forces in June 2020. Ahmad Erekat, 26, was killed by Israeli security services in the West Bank town of Abu Dis after what the army claimed was an attempted car ramming – an account that has been disputed by analysts and family members. The appeal, which was filed by Erekat’s family, was rejected by the High Court of Justice despite the fact that at the time of his death the security cabinet had said that only the bodies of Hamas members and perpetrators of especially brutal attacks could be held.”

In an effort to take over occupied Palestinian land, Israeli settlers set up mobile homes near Salfit,

“Israeli settlers today set two mobile homes on Palestinian-owned lands in the town of Deir Istiya, to the west of the occupied West Bank city of Salfit as part of efforts by the settlers to take over Palestinian land. Said Zeidan, head of the Deir Istiya municipality, told WAFA that the settlers set up two mobile homes in the area west of the town already threatened of takeover by the settlers since it is located close to the illegal Israeli settlement of Havat Yair.”

Settlers torch dozens of olive trees south of Nablus,

“Israeli settlers today torched dozens of olive trees in Burin town, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, according to witnesses. They said that a group of settlers set fire to dozens of olive trees belonging to Akram Omran in the southern part of the town. The settlers came from Yitzhar, a colonial settlement notorious for its hardcore religious community.”

How Israel is planning to evict Palestinians from East Jerusalem to make way for 'Silicon Wadi',

“According to the Jerusalem Post, about 200 Palestinian-owned industrial buildings will have their tenants evicted and be demolished, but the report claimed that they would be compensated. Yet the Palestinian locals who spoke to The New Arab have a different story. Based on the plan, an area of 200,000 square metres will be allocated for the project, including 50,000 square metres for hotels and another 50,000 square metres for retail. When completed, the project will be twice the size of New York’s Grand Central Station.”

Palestinian man stabbed by Jewish mob recalls: ‘They chased me with a knife’,

““I was sitting outside, waiting for a cab, and they approached me,” Salima told the Kan public broadcaster from his hospital bed, in an interview that aired Sunday night. “One of them pulled out a knife, I saw he wanted to stab me.” Salima said he grabbed a handful of dirt and threw it at the group of five men, and started running up Agrippas Street. “The chased me up the street and caught me,” he recounted. “They stabbed me and hit me, punched me. They didn’t say anything.””

Inside the Green Line

Shaked: Yamina to quit government if Lapid advances Palestinian state,

“The Yamina Party will quit the government if Foreign Minister Yair Lapid advances Palestinian statehood when he replaces Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked warned on Sunday. “There will not be a Palestinian state in a government that we [Yamina] are party to,” said Shaked, who is a member of Bennett’s Yamina Party. There is an agreement that this government will not deal with divisive matters such as this one, Shaked told the KAN News radio program.”