Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 4, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Settlements, Apartheid

Israel Asks U.S. to Pressure Palestinians to Accept Sheikh Jarrah Eviction Compromise,

“Israeli officials have asked the Biden administration to put pressure on the Palestinians to have the families in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood agree to the compromise suggested Monday by Israel’s Supreme Court in a high-profile eviction case. The court suggested that the families be allowed to remain in their homes under “protected residents” status; the locals would have to pay a small rental fee to a settler group that acquired the rights to the land that once belonged to Jewish families. The Israeli approach to the White House in recent days came on the expectation that the compromise might also reduce international pressure over the possible eviction.”

Israeli Army Launches New Procedure for Summoning Palestinian Minors,

“The Israeli military has introduced a procedure for summoning Palestinian minors for interrogation instead of detaining them without warning, but the rules remain confidential and contain exceptions that make them unlikely to significantly reduce nighttime arrests. The announcement on the procedures was provided in advance of a hearing on a petition by the Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual asking that the summons be the default procedure for suspects. In a hearing on the petition, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut said on Monday that the state will need to provide an update about the implementation of the new rules in February 2022. Over the past six years, the military has claimed that it was conducting a pilot program for summoning minors for interrogation instead of arresting them in their homes, but announced in 2018 that the program would not apply to those aged between 16 and 18. The new regulations are based on the pilot program, which appears to have been extremely limited in scope – but unlike the pilot program, it does not exclude those aged 16-18. According to the main points of the regulations provided by the military, the procedure will apply only to minors the police want to question – not minors the Shin Bet wants to interrogate, who will still be arrested in their homes.”

Palestinian nutrition student transferred to Israeli military court over campus activism,

“Students at Birzeit University, near Ramallah, have been subject to Israeli army raids, torture, interrogation, and arbitrary detention as part of a systematic and prolonged campaign to silence student activism, a statement released on Tuesday by the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association read. The statement came on the same day that Israel’s military prosecutor submitted charges against Layan Nasir, a 21-year-old Palestinian student at Birzeit University who was detained and interrogated for nearly a month. Nasir was arrested on 7 July when Israeli forces stormed her home in the occupied West Bank town of Birzeit, saying she was being detained for a short interrogation. She was transported to Ofer military camp handcuffed, blindfolded, and with her mouth covered shut.”

Editorial | One Week, Four Palestinian Deaths, All in Unjustified Circumstances,

“One week, four deaths, all in unjustified circumstances. A 12-year-old boy, a 17-year-old teen, a 20-year-old man and a 41-year-old man, none of whom endangered the soldiers who killed them. IDF soldiers’ quick trigger fingers are a badge of shame for the army and the lethal chief of staff who heads it. The IDF has proven to be a thug against people smaller and weaker than itself. Only utter contempt for Palestinian lives could explain such a bloody harvest.”

Palestinian woman gives birth at roadblock, IDF doctor rescues baby,

“Ekhouse’s team was manning the roadblock near the Palestinian village of Samoa near Hebron when a Palestinian car arrived with a man, two women and three children, Elkhouse told Yedioth Aharonot. “The man asked in Hebrew, ‘Is there a doctor here? My wife is about to give birth.’””


PA, Qatar reach agreement on transfer of aid funds to Gaza,

“The Palestinian Authority and Qatar have reached an agreement on the transfer of the Qatari aid money to the Gaza Strip, after Hamas folded and accepted the new agreement and the involvement of the PA in the transfer process. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh confirmed Monday night that “the PA agrees to be responsible for transferring part of the Qatari grant to the Gaza Strip intended only for needy families.””

Thomas White to serve as interim UNRWA director in Gaza - report,

“Australian Thomas White will serve as interim director of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, replacing Matthias Schmale who left the Strip after saying that Israel carried out precise and sophisticated strikes during Operation Guardian of the Walls, according to Palestinian media. White will serve as director until a suitable replacement is found.”

'We'll scream our pain': Gaza's first rock band, Osprey V, takes wing,

“An accountant, two lawyers, an agronomist and a Swiss humanitarian worker have formed Gaza’s first rock band, giving voice in English to the pain of war in the Palestinian territory. The unlikely group got together more than two years ago to create Osprey V, posting video clips online and projecting an aura of mystery by keeping their faces hidden.”

Diplomacy & Negotiations

Hamas insists Marwan Barghouti be part of any prisoner swap with Israel,

“On July 27, Israel’s Channel 12 quoted a Palestinian source as saying Hamas proposed, through Egyptian mediation, an offer to release two prisoners, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayeed — whom Hamas has said are soldiers and Israel says are civilians — in a first stage. The second stage would involve two missing Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, whom Israel claims were killed in Gaza. Under the deal, Hamas, which has called the missing soldiers prisoners, would release them (or their bodies, as the case may be) in exchange for Barghouti’s freedom. Israel has yet to reply to the offer.”

Bennett White House visit likely postponed to September,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s first meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington is unlikely to take place this month as planned, a source close to the prime minister said on Tuesday. Though Bennett had aimed to visit the White House before German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s trip to Israel on August 28-30, Jerusalem and Washington are now working to find a date after that.”

The U.S. Scene

Ron DeSantis warns Florida may divest from Unilever over Ben & Jerry's West Bank boycott,

“Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said the State Board of Administration added London-based Unilever to its list of “scrutinized companies” that boycott Israel, reported the Associated Press (AP). DeSantis’ action means that Ben & Jerry’s has 90 days to reverse its position on Israel, otherwise the state will not invest in or contract with Unilever or its subsidiaries…“As a matter of law and principle, the state of Florida will not tolerate discrimination against the state of Israel or the Israeli people,” the Republican governor said in a news release. “I will not stand idly by as woke corporate ideologues seek to boycott and divest from our ally, Israel.” At least 35 US states have anti-Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) statutes on their books and several of them have threatened similar action against either Ben & Jerry’s and/ or parent company Unilever. “

Does the new US foreign spending bill condition aid to Israel? - analysis,

“The annual bill that determines what funds the United States will disburse overseas passed last week, and it has new language of interest to those following Israel discourse. Here’s a breakdown of the Israel-related content in the Department of State’s Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act for 2022, and why it matters.”

In upset, pro-Israel backed candidate wins key Cleveland area Democratic primary,

“Brown in her victory speech recalled her visit to Israel, including to towns on the Gaza Strip border. “You walk within a few feet of a bomb shelter, you can appreciate the vulnerability of a state, and that has given me the understanding of the U.S.-Israel relationship and I thank my Jewish brethren,” she said in video posted on Twitter by Jewish Insider. A crowd of Jews and African Americans burst into cheers. In her concession speech, Turner targeted outside money that backed Brown, although Turner also accepted money from PACs. “We didn’t lose this race, evil money manipulated and maligned this election,” Turner said. That prompted a tweet from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Jewish Democrat who is senior in the party and who backed Brown. “@ninaturner proving that support for @shontelmbrown was a #mitzvah,” Wasserman Schultz said.”

Inside the Green Line

State Comptroller: Government Does Not Know Size of Bedouin Population in Negev,

“Israeli government authorities don’t know the size of the Bedouin population in the southern Negev region, or the number of residents in various individual Bedouin communities, according to a report released Wednesday by the State Comptroller’s Office. Among other failings noted in the report is the inability to implement a decision taken about a decade ago to relocate a large complex of educational institutions in the Negev located near the Neot Hovav industrial zone, where noxious chemicals are produced. In addition, the report states that during a four-year period, there were more than 1,600 criminal incidents targeting the Tze’elim army training base in the northern Negev.” Also See – “Comptroller finds state failing on Bedouin and Israelis of Ethiopian origin” (The Times of Israel)

Analysis | Why the World Is Gripped by Sheikh Jarrah, While Israelis Aren't Really Interested,

“Israelis aren’t really interested in the potential eviction of 13 Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood. Not that they’re necessarily on the side of the settler organizations that are trying to evict them. It just doesn’t feature. Certainly not on a sweltering August day when Israelis finally got a new state budget (for the first time in over three years) which may impact on their finances, with COVID-19 making a comeback and some rare sporting satisfaction in the Tokyo Olympics. A squabble over a few houses in East Jerusalem really seems so inconsequential – as long as it’s not used by Hamas again as a pretext for launching rockets at Israeli cities. The court feels the same way. Just like Israel’s Foreign Ministry, which said in May that Sheikh Jarrah was merely a “real-estate dispute.” The justices were trying the “pragmatic” approach, because that’s how you solve real-estate disputes. But they knew only too well that outside their courtroom, on social media and the international news networks, it was being treated as anything but.”

Will Israel abandon Netanyahu's far-right European allies?,

“It is still uncertain whether the new Israeli government will abandon Netanyahu’s alignment with the European far-right. According to Goren, Yair Lapid is trying to adopt a different foreign policy approach emphasising Israel’s commitment to liberal and democratic values and seeking international alliances on this basis. He has, for example, emphasised the importance of Israel-EU relations and the need for a fresh start. Lapid’s visit to Brussels, rather than a specific member state, reflected this change of policy. An Israeli foreign minister who sees a benefit for Israel in a strong EU, rather than a weak one, will prioritise ties with pro-European leaders in Europe rather than with Eurosceptic ones, according to Goren.”

Former Knesset Lawmaker Indicted on Charges of Fraud and Forgery,

“The Economic Department of the State Attorney’s Office on Wednesday filed an indictment in the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court against former lawmaker Haneen Zoabi and 12 other defendants, some of them former senior officials of the Balad party, who plead guilty to attempting to intentionally commit fraud and forgery. Zoabi, along with other Balad party members, allegedly accepted 3.2 million shekels ($970,000) in campaign donations from abroad, concealing the transactions from the State Comptroller’s Office using false receipts in 2013. The donations were used for Balad’s Knesset campaign and local elections in the same year.”

Israel & the Region

Three Rockets Fired at Israel From Lebanon; Army Responds With Artillery,

“Three rockets were fired from Lebanon, with two landing in Israeli territory and one failing to cross into Israel. The IDF has renewed fire at the Lebanese border, according to Lebanese sources. Minutes after the sirens, the IDF launched a response, firing artillery at Lebanese targets. Israeli defense officials speculate that Hezbollah was not behind the rocket launch, rather Palestinian militant factions may have been responsible. “

Analysis | Despite Bennett's Threats on Iran, He Still Prefers to Work With the International Community,

“On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz will hold a joint briefing on the incident for the local ambassadors of the Security Council member states. Although Israeli officials initially made threats against Iran in response to the attack, it appears that any such plans are being delayed for now, in an effort to exhaust all diplomatic avenues. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, during a tour of the military Northern Command on Tuesday, said Israel was working “to enlist the world, but at the same time we also know how to act alone. Immediately after the Iranian attack on the ship (on Friday) we shared our intelligence with our friends in the United States, the U.K. and elsewhere. While nobody has any doubt who is behind the incident, we provided hard evidence just to be sure.””