Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 25, 2021

What We’re Reading

Mr. Bennett Comes to Washington

​​Israeli leader to meet with Biden as tensions grow in Middle East,

“Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s meeting with President Joe Biden comes as tensions rise with its regional arch enemy, Iran, and as Israel renews its bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip amid Palestinian protests. Bennett, in his first state visit overseas since taking office, was scheduled on Wednesday to meet with senior administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and on Thursday with Biden. In a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office before his departure, Bennett said the top priority in his conversation with Biden would be Iran, ‘especially the leapfrogging in the past two to three years in the Iranian nuclear program.’ He said other issues would also be discussed, including the Israeli military’s qualitative edge, the coronavirus pandemic and economic matters.”


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Bennett: No peace with Palestinians, siege on Gaza to continue,

“Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the New York Times yesterday that there would be no peace with the Palestinians and the Israeli siege on Gaza will continue as long as Hamas rules the coastal enclave. Before his meeting with the US President Joe Biden, Bennett ruled out any progress in the peace process with the Palestinian, claiming peace talks would not happen because the Palestinian leadership is fractured and rudderless, as well as because he is resolutely opposed to Palestinian sovereignty. He said that there would be no peace talks with the Palestinians because he is afraid this would dissolve his government, which includes parties that support Palestinian statehood and others who oppose it.‘This government is a government that will make dramatic breakthroughs in the economy,’ Bennett said. ‘Its claim to fame will not be solving the 130-year-old conflict here in Israel.’ He added: ‘This government will neither annex nor form a Palestinian state, everyone gets that. I’m prime minister of all Israelis, and what I’m doing now is finding the middle ground — how we can focus on what we agree upon.’


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Jewish prayers held discreetly at contested Jerusalem shrine,

“As police protected them, three Jewish men stepped forward, placed their hands out at chest level and began reciting prayers in low tones in the shadow of Jerusalem’s golden Dome of the Rock. Jewish prayers at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, were once unthinkable. But they have quietly become the new norm in recent years, flying in the face of longstanding convention, straining a delicate status quo and raising fears that they could trigger a new wave of violence in the Middle East.”


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Israeli bulldozers demolish house in Jerusalem neighborhood,

“The Israeli occupation authorities demolished a Palestinian house in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, according to local sources. They said that Israeli police and municipal crews barged their way into Ash-Shayyah area, located close the section of Israel’s apartheid wall, cordoned it off before a bulldozer tore down the house under construction, reducing it to rubble. The demolition of the 90-square-meter house, which belonged to the Zaghal family, was carried out under the pretext of unlicensed building.”

West Bank

The Beita model: Palestinians lead ‘new form of resistance’ at Evyatar outpost,

“Using laser pointers, burning tires, makeshift explosive devices, and noisy horns to torment residents of an illegal Jewish outpost, in a tactic borrowed from Gaza-based terror groups along the border fence with Israel, Palestinians in Beita say they have set themselves apart from others demonstrating against Israel’s West Bank policies. But beyond attention-grabbing tactics, protesters in the Palestinian town near Nablus insist their weeks-long campaign against the wildcat settlement of Evyatar is distinct for another reason. They describe it as a grassroots movement, not inspired or directed by Fatah secularists who control the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, or their rivals from the Hamas terror group that runs the Gaza Strip. ‘Here there is only one flag: that of Palestine. There are no factions,’ Said Hamayel told AFP.”

Israeli forces raze large tract of land east of Hebron,

“Israeli forces today razed a large tract of agriculture land in Birin village, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, according to a local activist. Head of Birin Village Council, Farid Burqan, told WAFA that Israeli military bulldozers leveled 10 donums of agriculture land planted with 400 grape and olive saplings as well as summer crops. They also tore down retaining walls and sabotaged barbed wire belonging to Salem al-Rajabi under the flimsy pretext that his plot of land is located in Area C, which accounts for 60 percent of the total West Bank area. Located to the southwest of Bani Na‘im, Birin has a population of 160 and is flanked by Bani Haiver colonial settlement from the east and the settler-only bypass Road No. 60 from the west. Its residents were originally expelled from Naqab in southern Israel and now depend on agriculture and livestock as their main source of livelihood.”

Israeli forces raze large tract of land east of Bethlehem,

“Israeli forces today  razed  a large tracts of Palestinian land  in Kisan village, east of the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, according to a local official. Member of Kisan Village Council, Ibrahim Ghazal, told WAFA  that Israeli military bulldozers razed a large tract of land belonging to the Ebayyat family to make room for the construction of a settler-only bypass road that would connect the colonial settlement outpost of Ibei Hanahal to surrounding settlements.”

Israeli forces demolish house in Bethlehem-district town,

“Israeli forces today demolished a Palestinian house in al-Walaja village, northwest of the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, according to sources. Head of al-Walaja Village Council, Khader al-Aaraj, told WAFA that the Israeli forces escorted a bulldozer to Ein Joweiza area, where the heavy machinery tore down the house which belonged to Ahmad Abu al-Teen purportedly for being built without a license. Meanwhile, Israeli bulldozers tore down a 200-square-meter car workshop al-Harayeq area, at the southern entrance of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, citing the same pretext.”

An Israeli Forest to Erase the Ruins of Palestinian Agricultural Terraces,

“‘Our forest is growing over, well, over a ruined village,’ A.B. Yehoshua wrote in his novella ‘Facing the Forests.’ The massive wildfire in the Jerusalem Hills last week exposed the underpinning of the view through the trees. The agricultural terraces were revealed in their full glory, and also revealed a historic record that Israel has always sought to obscure and erase – traces of Palestinian life on this land.”

Gaza Strip

Palestinian shot by Israeli army in Gaza Strip dies,

“A Palestinian man has died of injuries sustained during weekend confrontations with Israeli forces on the fence that separates Gaza from Israel, the besieged strip’s health ministry says ahead of fresh protests called for Wednesday. Following Saturday’s unrest, in which dozens of Palestinians were wounded with Israeli live fire, 32-year-old Palestinian Osama Khaled Deaih died after being shot by Israeli forces, the ministry said.” Also see: Gazan dies of wounds from Saturday border clashes; Hamas says he was a member (Times of Israel)

Egypt pressuring Hamas to cancel protests near Israel fence,

“Egyptian authorities have been pressuring Hamas to cancel planned demonstrations at the fence separating Israel from the besieged enclave, Al Maydan News revealed yesterday. Reporting a Palestinian source, Al Maydan said that the closure of the Rafah Crossing, which came into effect on Monday, is part of efforts to pressure Hamas. The source said that the Egyptians were thinking of increasing the sanctions on the besieged Gaza Strip if the demonstrations continue. On Monday, the Egyptian authorities told the Interior Ministry in Gaza that the Rafah Crossing would be closed until further notice, without giving reasons. Israeli TV Channel 13 reported that Egypt has been carrying out intensive contacts with Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh in order to prevent a possible escalation in Gaza that could be triggered by the planned demonstrations which are being organised to call for ending the 14-year-old siege.”


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The deepening costs of 4 Gaza wars in 13 years, in 4 charts [interactive],

“The latest war between Hamas and Israel followed a familiar – and troubling – pattern: Palestinian rocket fire, devastating Israeli airstrikes; a mounting loss of life and appeals for the ‘senseless cycle’ to end. Left behind after each war in 2008-09, 2012, 2014 and 2021 is an enduring fear of the next one. In Gaza, Palestinians mourn the dead, try to resume life amid the ruins and rebuild. The United Nations says there has been more than $5 billion worth of damage over four wars to Gaza’s homes, agriculture, industry, electricity and water infrastructure. A closer look behind the staggering figure reveals the daunting challenges for any rebuilding plan. Satellite imagery and death tolls show the magnitude of the devastation. Economic data reveals a young populace, hungry for work but with few job prospects. Even before May’s war, polls show that Gaza residents are dissatisfied with their living conditions and 40% would leave if they could.  Gaza, experts say, is in crisis, each war further exacerbating the struggles faced by Palestinians.”


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‘Israel unlikely to launch new war against Hamas’,

“Israel’s new government is unlikely to launch a fresh war against Hamas, and Hamas has no intention for war, said a co-founder of the Palestinian resistance group. In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Mahmoud al-Zahar, who is also a medical doctor and served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Palestinian government established in 2006 and led by Prime Minister İsmail Haniyeh, commented on the current tensions on the Gaza border, the fight against Israel and a possible prisoner exchange. ‘There is no new tension at the level of the people. Israel has intensified the blockade against the people of Gaza in the past few days in terms of food, medicine, water and electricity,’ said al-Zahar, adding the Palestinian people reacted to the Israeli crime and demanded that the blockade be lifted.”


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Palestinian Authority/PLO

EU calls on PA expedite probe into Nizar Banat's death,

“The European Union has called on the Palestinian Authority to expedite the investigation into the death of political activist Nizar Banat who had died shortly after being arrested by Palestinian security forces in the city of Hebron in June. ‘Violence against peaceful human rights defenders, activists and protesters is unacceptable. The EU and like-minded missions call on the Palestinian Authority to swiftly conclude the investigation of the death of Nizar Banat in a fully transparent manner, and to ensure that those responsible are held accountable,’ the EU representatives said in a joint statement yesterday.”


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EU delays PA funding; salary payment in doubt as crisis deepens,

“The European Union has delayed by ten months this year’s funding to the Palestinian Authority in a move that has deepened the PA’s financial crisis and raised doubts about the payment of August’s civil servant wages. ‘The crisis is very serious, and at this stage we don’t know if we will be able to pay this month’s salaries,’ a Palestinian official cautiously told The Jerusalem Post. The European Union has been the largest single donor to the PA, providing 150 million euros for social allowances, including salaries for employees such as teachers and health care workers.”

Fatah Central Committee says Abbas to oversee cabinet reshuffle,

“The Central Committee of the Fatah movement said yesterday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will oversee the upcoming government reshuffle of Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh. ‘After reviewing the cabinet reshuffle issue, the Fatah Central Committee has decided to leave the matter to President Mahmoud Abbas,’ the committee said in a statement issued at the conclusion of a meeting headed by Abbas in Ramallah.”


Algeria cuts ties with ‘hostile’ Morocco, partly blaming Israel rapprochement,

“Algeria formally broke off diplomatic relations with neighboring Morocco on Tuesday, with the foreign minister citing a series of alleged hostile acts including Rabat’s recent rapprochement with Israel. The move culminates a period of growing tension between the North African countries which are mired in a decades-long feud, with their borders closed to each other. There was no immediate reaction from Morocco.”