Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 24, 2021

What We’re Reading


Israel bombs Hamas sites in Gaza over fire balloons -military,

“Israeli warplanes bombed Hamas sites in Gaza in response to incendiary balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave that caused brush fires in southern Israel, its military said early on Tuesday. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the air strikes that targeted what the military said was a weapons production facility and a rocket launch site belonging to Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza.”


Also See

Security officials believe Israel, Hamas on collision course in Gaza — TV,

“An official told Channel 12 Monday that Hamas is seeking to increase pressure on Israel by renewing both Gaza border protests and the launching of arson balloons from the coastal enclave. With the renewal of border protests, Israel will be forced to respond more strongly to distance Gazans from the security fence, with the likely result being more casualties to the Palestinian side, to which Hamas will want to respond.”

Israel seizes tons of chocolate it claims is being used to fund Hamas,

“Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed Aug. 16 an administrative order to confiscate 23 tons of chocolate bars destined for the Gaza Strip, on suspicion of being used as an alternative currency to fund Hamas.  Gantz stressed that Israel would continue to work to prevent Hamas’ growth, accusing it of building a military force instead of serving the interests of citizens who suffer from economic burdens. “Based on suspicions, Hamas operates a wide network to finance its activities by selling basic products, including chocolate bars, to the residents of Gaza, and thus uses the revenues as economic support for its military wing in the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli Ministry of Defense said in an Aug. 16 statement.”

West Bank & Jerusalem

In Shift, Israel Quietly Allows Jewish Prayer on Temple Mount,

“Since Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, it has maintained a fragile religious balance at the Temple Mount, the most divisive site in Jerusalem: Only Muslims can worship there, while Jews can pray at the Western Wall below. But recently the government has quietly allowed increasing numbers of Jews to pray there, a shift that could aggravate the instability in East Jerusalem and potentially lead to religious conflict…The policy began to change during the tenure of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, who led coalitions of right-wing and religious parties. Rabbi Glick said that the police began to allow him and his allies to pray on the mount more openly five years ago…Mr. Bennett initially appeared to confirm a formal change in policy, saying that all religions would have “freedom of worship” on Temple Mount, to the delight of some members of his own hard-right party. A day later, after criticism from Jordan and leftist and Arab members of his governing coalition, he backtracked, issuing a statement that the status quo ante remained in place. His office repeated that claim after a recent inquiry from The New York Times, providing a six-word comment: “No change in the status quo.” But in reality, dozens of Jews now openly pray every day in a secluded part of the eastern flank of the site, and their Israeli police escorts no longer attempt to stop them.”

Israeli troops kill Palestinian teenager in occupied West Bank,

“A 15-year-old Palestinian has been killed by Israeli gunfire in the occupied West Bank as Israeli forces stormed a refugee camp near Nablus. The Palestinian health ministry said Imad Khaled Saleh Hashash died on Tuesday after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head in the Balata refugee camp. The Israeli army said it conducted an overnight operation in the camp to apprehend “a suspect”. “During the mission, live ammunition was fired at troops from rooftops. The troops responded with fire towards the sources of the shooting,” it said in a statement.”


Also See

Israeli forces detain 15 Palestinians from West Bank,

“These raids, which take place also in areas under the full control of the Palestinian Authority, are conducted with no need for a search warrant, whenever and wherever the military chooses in keeping with its sweeping arbitrary powers.”

Israel Set to Approve Seizure of Palestinian Land in West Bank for Settlement Expansion,

“Israel is expected to approve Wednesday a plan to expropriate 68 dunams (17 acres) of land owned by Palestinians to widen a West Bank road that connects a central Israeli city to some Jewish settlements…In the coming years, construction of 5,650 apartments is slated to take place in the settlements near the road. The plan is opposed by 35 Palestinian plant nursery owners, whose lands will be expropriated for the highway construction…Expropriating land for public use in the West Bank should also serve the Palestinian population. But in practice, this stretch of highway is one to which Palestinians have no access. “

Jewish Agency Invites Staff to Radical West Bank Settlement for Holiday Trip,

“Hardly a month after temporarily assuming the helm of the organization, Yaakov Hagoel, the former head of World Likud, was already helping plan a trip for Jewish Agency staffers to the West Bank city of Hebron, a hotbed of settler extremism. The event is being organized by the World Zionist Organization, which Hagoel also heads. Invitations to the outing, scheduled for Thursday, were sent out earlier this week not only to employees of the WZO – whose member parties and movements are known to engage in political and religious advocacy – but also to employees of the Jewish Agency, a strictly apolitical organization. Veteran staff members of the Jewish Agency, who spoke with Haaretz on condition of anonymity, said they did not recall ever being invited to participate in an event at such a politically contentious location. In Hebron, around 700 Jewish settlers live alongside more than 215,000 Palestinians, who are subject to strict limitations on movement within the city.”

Israel Restores State Stipends to Seven Palestinian Activists,

“The National Insurance Institute has restored medical and social benefits to seven Palestinian activists in East Jerusalem and their families that had been taken away from them during the Gaza conflict last May. The seven are among some 20 political activists from the area who discovered in May, during the disturbances in the city that preceded the fighting, that they and their families had been blocked in the NII and health maintenance organization computers, thereby denying them, their partners and children health care and government allowances. The other 13 have yet to have their benefits restored. None of the activists were notified in advance that the benefits had been revoked; most discovered it by chance when they applied for and were denied medical treatment. Among the dozens denied care were at least three pregnant women.”

Israel’s killing of Palestinian children,

“The deaths of the three boys were among 12 children killed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank this year, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Another 67 children were killed in Gaza during Israel’s attack in May. According to DCIP, seven children were killed in Gaza and the West Bank in 2020.”

The Palestinian Scene

UN, EU condemn Palestinian Authority over activist arrests,

“The UN human rights office said on Tuesday it was “deeply concerned at continuing pressure on those seeking to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly in Palestine”. It said the security forces had arrested 23 people in Ramallah on Saturday on the grounds that “they were holding a public protest”, but noted 21 “were detained before any protest had even started”. “More arrests appear to be taking place” targeting “well-known human rights defenders and political activists”, the UN said, calling for “the immediate release without charge of these individuals”.”

Israeli Politics

Bennett seeks U.S. 'reset' in first White House visit,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett heads to Washington Tuesday for talks with U.S. President Joe Biden, seeking to “reset” relations with Israel’s closest ally and reach common ground on arch-foe Iran. In his first state visit since taking office in June, Bennett will meet Biden on Thursday and attempt to mend ties with America’s top Democrat, which were strained under former premier Benjamin Netanyahu, accused of openly favoring the Republican party.”

Meretz's Arab MK says Israel should hold direct talks with Hamas,

“Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej (Meretz) responded Tuesday to the escalation with Gaza and the possibility that the IDF will soon need to fight another battle with the Hamas terror group which controls the enclave, In an interview with 103 FM Radio, Frej said, “We are running too fast. This ritual repeats itself, and if we don’t have the courage to think out of the box and understand how we can solve the problems, we’ll end up in the same place.””

Some parents in wealthy Tel Aviv suburb oppose appointment of Arab teacher,

“According to Channel 12 news, a group of parents has hired a lawyer to formally oppose the appointment. One involved parent, who chose to remain anonymous, told the network that an Arab instructor who teaches math or English would be acceptable, but an educator in the younger grades “is supposed to instill students with a love of Israel, of the homeland, the holidays, the symbols, memorial days — an Arab educator cannot provide all of that.””


Is the Two-State Solution Still Viable? Foreign Affairs Asks the Experts,

“We at Foreign Affairs have recently published a number of pieces on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the viability of the two-state solution. To complement these articles, we decided to ask a broad pool of experts for their take. As with previous surveys, we approached dozens of authorities with specialized expertise relevant to the question at hand, together with leading generalists in the field. Participants were asked to state whether they agreed or disagreed with a proposition and to rate their confidence level in their opinion. Their answers are below.”