Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 30, 2021

What We’re Reading

Mr. Bennett’s Washington Visit

The Kabul Attack Took Attention Away From Biden And New Israeli Leader's Meeting,

“…Bennett, in every meeting he had with – as U.S. officials said, he laid out his policy. He would not annex the West Bank. He will allow settlements in the West Bank to expand steadily. And he will not enter peace talks with Palestinians, but he will do improvements to give – improvements to Palestinians’ lives.”


Also see:

Erdan confident US visa waiver for Israelis forthcoming after Biden meeting,

“Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan says he has ‘no doubt’ that the US will grant a waiver for Israelis that will not require them to purchase visas in order to enter the United States. Erdan made a private pitch on the matter to US President Joe Biden after the latter’s meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, according to Channel 12.” Background: Critics Fear Visa Waiver For Israel Glosses Over Discrimination Against Americans (Daily Beast, May 16, 2013)

Israel to oppose US consulate for PA in Jerusalem?,

“’This is an open issue,’ the political source said, ‘Israel’s position is known and is that Israel has a capital and it is the capital of Israel alone.’ To our question as to whether Israel will clarify that under no circumstances will the consulate be established in Jerusalem, the source replied that at this stage the issue is ‘stalled’ in his words and will be addressed if the matter becomes urgent. On another issue, Biden and Bennett agreed to disagree: construction in Judea and Samaria. It was decided that the Americans would not put pressure on Israel in the matter, and Israel would not conduct massive construction in the area.” Also see: Biden raised reopening of Jerusalem consulate, opposition to evictions, with PM (Times of Israel)

Scoop: Former Israel ambassador joins U.S. Iran team,

“Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro has joined the State Department’s Iran team as a senior adviser, a senior State Department official tells Axios….Israel is pressing the Biden administration to start discussing a ‘Plan B’ in case diplomacy with Iran fails. Shapiro, who has a personal relationship with many Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, is equipped to play a key role in any such talks. His portfolio will be the regional aspects of the Iranian issue and coordination with Israel.” Also see: Dan Shapiro appointed as State Department liaison to Israel on Iran (Jerusalem Post)

Gaza Strip

Israel strikes Gaza after fire balloons, border clashes,

“The Israeli air force attacked two sites in Gaza early Sunday morning, the army said, after Gazans clashed with forces on the border and launched incendiary balloons at southern Israel. ‘IDF fighter jets struck a Hamas military compound used for manufacturing weapons and training as well as an entrance to a terror tunnel adjacent to Jabalia,’ a statement from the Israeli army said. ‘The strikes were in response to Hamas launching incendiary balloons into Israeli territory and the violent riots that took place yesterday,’ it added. According to the army, both incidents were ‘examples of how Hamas continues to employ terror tactics and target civilians.’”


Also see:

Gaza: Palestinian boy shot by Israeli army dies from wounds,

“A 12-year-old Palestinian boy shot last weekend by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration near the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel has died from his wounds, the besieged enclave’s health ministry said on Saturday. Omar Hasan Abu al-Nil, from the Tuffah neighbourhood of Gaza City, was shot with a live bullet during a rally marking the 52nd anniversary of an arson attack on al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Around 40 people were wounded by Israeli forces on 21 August, including 32-year-old Osama Khaled Ideij, who died on Wednesday. An Israeli police officer was also shot and remains in a critical condition.”


Also see:

Gaza: Disabled or dead, many young victims of Israeli strikes won't return to school,

“Among the hundreds of Palestinian children injured in Israel’s May campaign on Gaza, many now face a life without education and few prospects.”

Egypt reopens Gaza crossing after closure,

“Egyptian authorities on Sunday reopened the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip in both directions. Passengers gathered since early morning to cross into and out of the Gaza Strip, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter. There was no comment from Palestinian or Egyptian authorities on the report. The border crossing was shut in both directions by the Egyptian authorities on Monday before it was opened two days later in one direction to allow travelers into the Palestinian territory. The Rafah border terminal is the only gateway to Palestinians in Gaza to the outside world that is not controlled by Israel, which has imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza since 2007.”


Also see:


Two days after the meeting with President Biden the Israeli Government is promoting the plans in E1,

“…The government of Israel had an opportunity to take the plan off the table, but instead, the plan was promoted and today the HPC announced the new date for the hearing at the beginning of October, just after the holidays in Israel. This plan is considered exceptionally lethal for the chances for peace and the two state solution as it cuts across the West Bank and prevents the development of the metropoline between Ramallah, East Jerusalem and Bethlehem.” Also see tweet from Daniel Seidemann (Terrestrial Jerusalem) – “The Higher Planning Committee (of the W. Bank), convenes hearings on the [doomsday] settlement E-1 on October 18. For 25 years, Israel was deterred and didn’t dare approve E-1. Until now. It’s good to see how attentive PM Bennett is to Pres. Bidens’s call for restraint.”

Work begins to partially renovate hazardous bridge to Temple Mount,

“Vital repair work began Sunday to a bridge that serves as the sole entry point for Jews and non-Muslim tourists to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, due to a risk of collapse…The Mughrabi Bridge leading from near the Western Wall plaza to the Mughrabi Gate of the Temple Mount compound was hastily constructed 15 years ago as a temporary replacement for an earthen access ramp that was in danger of collapsing at the time. The structural engineer had recommended replacing the bridge with a metal one that would be more durable and fireproof. However, that would likely inflame tensions with the Palestinians and with Jordan, who view any building activity in the area as a provocation against Muslims.”

Sheikh Jarrah: State of Play – August 2021,

“On August 2, 2021, the Israeli Supreme Court conducted a hearing on the appeal of four Palestinian families against lower court verdicts allowing a corporation associated with the East Jerusalem settlers to evict them of their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The hearing was an important milestone in an ongoing and unfolding saga that will possibly lead to the displacement of Palestinians in four targeted areas in East Jerusalem. The growing possibility of evictions in Sheikh Jarrah has stirred controversy for years. However, in recent months, as the prospect of the evictions loomed ever larger, these potential evictions has generated wide media coverage and a wave of support for the residents in the international community. The rising tension has already triggered intercommunal skirmishing on the streets of Jerusalem and a round of convulsive violence in and from Gaza. The results of the August 2 hearing were not only inconclusive, but also have given rise to a number of possible interpretations.  Having studied the court record, we have concluded that the hearing was a watershed event that, while solving nothing and eliminating no danger, illuminated the current state of play, while creating new rules of engagement among the protagonists, and new, albeit problematic, opportunities. Below is our analysis of the state of play regarding the Sheikh Jarrah evictions in the wake of the Supreme Court hearing.”

5 charged for stabbing Palestinian while on way to Western Wall prayers,

“Prosecutors filed an indictment on Sunday against five Jewish Israelis over the stabbing and assault of an Arab man in Jerusalem last week while they were on their way to Selichot prayers at the Western Wall. Tomer Zaken, 22, from Jerusalem was charged with aggravated intentional assault and possession of a knife. Suspects Barel Golan, 19, also from Jerusalem, Bir Kulni, and Yakir Zairi, both 20 from Hadera, and an unnamed 17-year-old were only charged with aggravated assault. Police had accused the Jewish mob of committing the attack with a nationalistic motive when they were first arrested. But prosecutors omitted this in the indictment.”

West Bank

​​15 Palestinians injured by Israeli army in West Bank,

“At least 15 Palestinians on Friday sustained injuries along with dozens others suffering from tear gas inhalation when the Israeli forces suppressed anti-settlement rallies in the occupied West Bank. A rally took place in the Beita village in protest of building a settlement on the Palestinian-owned lands on Mt. Sbeih near the village. The Palestinian Red Crescent society in Beita said its medical teams treated two Palestinians from rubber-coated bullets and five others from being hit by teargas canisters in addition to treating dozens from the teargas inhalation. Despite a decision by the Israeli authorities on July 2 to vacate the settlement, the Israeli army still controls the area where Palestinians demand reclaiming their lands. In the Kafr Qaddoum village, east of the northern Qalqilya city, eight Palestinians suffered injuries from the rubber-coated bullets used by the Israeli forces to suppress the anti-settlement rally along with dozens of others who were affected by the teargas. A third anti-settlement rally was also reported in the Beit Dajan village, east of the Nablus city, while no injuries have been reported so far. Meanwhile, eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that the Israeli forces detained seven Palestinian journalists while covering the Friday prayer on lands in the Um al-Shaqhan area, south of the Hebron city, threatened to be taken in favor of an Israeli settlement.”


Also see:

The Israeli occupation authorities demolished 31 Palestinian-owned structures in two weeks - OCHA,

“The Israeli occupation authorities demolished, seized, or forced owners to demolish a total of 31 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits displacing 32 people, including 14 children, and affecting the livelihoods of around 680 other people, according to the bi-weekly Protection of Civilians report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory covering the period between 10 and 23 August. It said a one-story building was also demolished by its owners, displacing four families (15 people), in the Shufat neighborhood of East Jerusalem.”


More occupation/human rights news:

Home Invasions and False Arrests: What Happens to a Palestinian Who Protects His Land,

“On December 11, a structure made of wood and cinder blocks appeared on a piece of land belonging to Aref Jaber of Hebron. Just before he found the structure, relatives told him that Israeli Jews were squatting on his land, on a hill east of Hebron in the West Bank, in an area called al-Bak’aa. Since that day, Jaber and his family have been constantly harassed: raids on his land and home, other illegal structures going up and being demolished, intrusive drones, imposter Israel Police officers saying they’re from the Shin Bet security service, and false arrests by the army and police. From the plot at al-Bak’aa to the home in Hebron and all the way to the Ofer military court, Haaretz has been accompanying the Jaber family since March – and the challenges they’ve encountered because they object to a hostile takeover of their land.” Also see: Five Days in the Life of a Palestinian, Erased (Haaretz)

Helping hand: Israeli forces in the service of Jewish settlers,

“The villagers of Urif live in fear for their lives and property as illegal settlers on a nearby hill – and the Israeli forces backing them – continue to terrorise the area. ‘We never know when the next attack will be, what damage the settlers will cause, and whether they will kill somebody,’ said Samir Sawalma, 65, whose home is located on the edge of the village nearest to the Israeli settlement of Yitzhar. ‘The settlers raided the village last week, accompanied by soldiers, and set fire to our olive orchards and chopped down some trees that had taken decades to grow,’ Sawalma told Al Jazeera. The windows of the Sawalnas’ home are covered in metal grilles and a high wall surrounds the house since it was attacked by settlers who smashed its windows and the windows of Samir’s car parked outside.”


More settlements news:

Stuck in limbo, undocumented Palestinian spouses live shadow lives,

“Those seeking permits to reside in the West Bank face a strict Israeli system and a PA that may be burying their applications, making them prisoners in their own adopted homes.” Also see: Twitter thread from FMEP’s Lara Friedman

Palestinian Authority/PLO

Palestinian president meets with Israeli defence minister in Ramallah,

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Israeli Defene Minister Benny Gantz in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, officials said. It was the highest-level meeting between Abbas and an Israeli minister to be made public since Israel’s new government was formed in June.”


Also see:

Official close to PM downplays Gantz-Abbas meeting: There won’t be peace talks,

“An official close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday downplayed a meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, saying there won’t be any peace negotiations with the Palestinians. ‘This is a meeting that deals with security issues. There is no diplomatic process with the Palestinians nor will there be,’ the official said in a statement.”


Also see:

Israel, PA discuss potential aid to Ramallah amid fears of economic collapse,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government has been in talks with the Palestinian Authority to send hundreds of millions of shekels to Ramallah amid the latter’s growing budget crisis, sources in Jerusalem and Ramallah told The Times of Israel. A tentative agreement for an Israeli financial package worth NIS 800 million ($247 million) to the PA has been formulated, an Israeli official said on Friday. Another official familiar with the matter described the deal as ‘practically done,’ although they cited the more modest figure of NIS 500 million ($155 million).” Also see: Report: Israel mulls transfering hundreds of millions of shekels to PA (Israel Hayom)

Hamas Refuses Abbas’ Condition for Acknowledging Int’l Resolutions,

“Hamas has rejected conditions presented by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas for achieving national unity and forming a consensus government. The Gaza ruling group claimed that complying with Abbas’ terms meant surrendering to Israeli conditions. ‘The requirements of President Abbas to form a government and achieve national unity are dependent on Zionist conditions and contradict the state of the Palestinian national consensus,’ said Hamas Spokesperson Abdul-Latif Al-Qanou. ‘Any national dialogue should be based on Cairo understandings,’ affirmed Al-Qanou. Al-Qanou accused the PA President of having opposing positions to national consensus, violating signed agreements and practicing tyranny.” Also see: Abbas: ‘No reconciliation talks with Hamas unless international resolutions recognised’ (Middle East Monitor)

​​UN urges Palestinian Authority not to harass protesters,

“The United Nations has called on the Palestinian Authority to stop harassing peaceful demonstrators, following the arrest of dozens of activists calling for a transparent trial of killers of critic Nizar Banat. Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, said the international body supports the right of people to demonstrate freely and peacefully. ‘We’ve expressed our concern. We’ve called for a full investigation, and we always stand by the people’s right to demonstrate freely and peacefully and for the authorities to allow them to do so free of harassment,’ Dujarric said.”

Family of Abbas critic, who died in PA custody, seeks international justice,

“Relatives of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat ask UN human rights bodies, Britain’s Metropolitan Police to open investigations under principle of universal jurisdiction.”

Inside the Green Line

Two Young Arab Men Shot to Death, Raising Number of Murders This Year to 77,

“Among the latest in a string of homicides in Israel’s Arab community, a 26-year-old man was shot to death Saturday night in Kafr Qasem, northeast of Tel Aviv. The victim, Abdel Aziz Qurmata, was a resident of Jaljulya, just to the north. Police suspected him of criminal involvement. Five months ago he was suspected of trading in weapons. Three years ago he was suspected of firing a weapon in Jaljulya. On Sunday, in another murder, the body of a man identified as Nur Ajaj Abu Shalufi was found in his burning vehicle on a highway near Moshav Hagor in the Sharon region, northeast of Tel Aviv. There were signs of gunfire on the vehicle. Since the beginning of the year, 77 Israeli Arabs have been killed under circumstances involving violence or criminality, and another six were killed by the police, according to the Abraham Initiatives, which promotes equality and coexistence among Israeli Arabs and Jews. Eleven of the slain were women, and 61 of the killings were committed with a firearm.” Also see:  77 Israeli Arabs Were Murdered This Year. Police Insist They Haven’t Lost Control (Haaretz)

First Israeli Convicted in Mob Attack on Arab Motorist During May’s Gaza War,

“A 20-year-old Jewish resident of the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam was convicted last week of involvement in the brutal attack on an Arab motorist in the town in May, during the recent war that Israel fought with Hamas and its allies in Gaza. The assailant, Lahav Nagauker, is the first of ten defendants to be convicted in the assault of the motorist, Said Moussa, a 33-year-old resident of Ramle, who was dragged out of his car and beaten by the mob [on live TV].”

Bonus Read

Neither Jews nor Palestinians Have a Patent on Terrace Farming,

“A dramatic scene is revealed on the road from Mount Tayasim Nature Reserve to Moshav Ramat Raziel in the Jerusalem Hills: an expansive slope, completely burned, dotted with the skeletons of blackened trees. But the fire also revealed a spectacular system of terraces, the foundations of the landscape that for decades was hidden by the trees. This vista launched a debate over the question of to whom the terraces belong…The dating of the terraces in the Judean Hills is a complex scientific issue, not to be confused with the somewhat childish political question of who was here first and who owns the landscape. The most important scientific inquiry into the question was made in 2016 by a team of researchers led by Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University. They used optically stimulated luminescence, which dates the last time the quartz crystals in the depth of the terrace soil were exposed to sunlight. The results were conclusive: The team found a few terraces that were 1,500- 2,000 years old (none of them dated to biblical times), but most were no more than 400 years old. Thus, the magnificent terraced landscape of the Judean Hills is the work of farmers who cultivated the land during the Ottoman era – Palestinian Arab inhabitants of this land, most of whom were expelled in 1948….” Also see: ‘Nature has spoken’: A forest fire to kindle Palestinian dreams of return (Middle East Eye)