Top News from Israel & Palestine: December 7, 2020

What We’re Reading

The Killing of Ali Abu Aliya

Palestinian Teen Killed by Israeli Fire During West Bank Protest, Palestinians Say,

“According to the Palestinian Red Cross, Ali Abu Aliya, who media reported is 13 years old, was hit by live fire in the stomach and was taken in critical condition to a hospital in Ramallah for surgery. The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed his death hours later.”

European Union Calls on Israel to Probe Killing of 13-year-old Palestinian,

“This shocking incident must be swiftly and fully investigated by the Israeli authorities in order to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the EU delegation responsible for Palestinian affairs said…Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh described the incident as “a new crime added to the occupation’s long record.” According to Palestinian sources, Ali Abu Aliya was shot in the stomach by a soldier in clashes in the village of al-Mughayir, northeast of Ramallah, on Friday. He died hours later of his wounds. Abu Aliya had been participating in a protest against a new settlement outpost in the area. Other demonstrators reported that clashes broke out between the Israeli army and Palestinians, even though they were far from the outpost. The mayor of al-Mughayir told Palestinian state news that Abu Aliya was shot by an Israeli soldier during clashes at the eastern entrance of the village. He added that four other young people were wounded by rubber bullet fire and treated at the scene.”

US Congresswoman Betty McCollum denounces Israel's 'state-sponsored killing' of Palestinian child,

“US Congresswoman Betty McCollum denounced the fatal shooting of a Palestinian child by Israeli forces in the West Bank as a “grotesque state-sponsored killing,” calling on the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden to investigate the incident. Israeli soldiers shot Palestinian teenager Ali Abu Aalya in the stomach during a protest near his village of al-Mughayir in the occupied West Bank on Friday. He later succumbed to his wounds. “Yesterday’s death of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in the West Bank by an Israeli soldier who shot the child in the abdomen is a grotesque state-sponsored killing,” McCollum told MEE in a statement on Saturday. “This senseless incident must be condemned as a direct result of Israel’s permanent military occupation of Palestine. “I urge the incoming Biden administration to fully investigate and verify to the American people that no US taxpayer-funded military aid to Israel provided material assistance enabling this taking of a child’s life.””

[Opinion] Israel’s War on Palestinian Children,

“On Friday they killed Ali Abu Alia, a 15-year-old boy. It was a lethal shot to the abdomen. No one could remain indifferent to the sight of his innocent face in photographs, and his last picture – in a shroud, his face exposed, his eyes closed, as he was carried to burial in his village. Ali, as he did every week, went with his friends to demonstrate against the wild and violent outposts that sprouted out of the settlement of Kokhav Hashahar, taking over the remaining land of his village, al-Mughayir. There is nothing more just than the struggle of this village, there is nothing more heinous than the use of lethal force against protesters and there is no possibility that shooting Ali in the abdomen could have been justifiable. In Israel, of course, no one showed any interest over the weekend in the death of a child, one more child.”

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

Palestinian shot at West Bank checkpoint after failing to stop on command,

“A Palestinian man was shot and injured after he refused to heed the calls of security guards at the Qalandiya checkpoint on Monday afternoon, police said. According to police, the man was walking in a section of the checkpoint reserved for vehicles. The man was reportedly in moderate condition. Medics were called to the scene and took him to a Jerusalem hospital for treatment. “The circumstances of the event are being investigated,” police said. Videos from the scene showed the man — apparently unarmed — walking through the area surrounded by cars as security guards approach him, telling him to halt. The officers then open fire, hitting the man in the leg. He then stands up and hops on one foot toward the officers, who shoot him again.”

Israeli police cleared in shooting of maimed Palestinian boy,

“Israeli authorities have cleared police of any wrongdoing in the case of a 9-year-old boy who lost an eye after apparently being shot in the face by an Israeli officer earlier this year. Malik Eissa was struck by what appeared to be a sponge-tipped munition last February and lost vision in his left eye, and his family says he hasn’t returned to school because of recurring medical treatments and the embarrassment of being disfigured and reliant on a prosthetic eye. Residents said he had just gotten off a school bus in the Palestinian neighborhood of Issawiya in east Jerusalem when police opened fire. Police said at the time they had responded to riots in the tense neighborhood and used what they call non-lethal weapons”

Knesset may require referendum for West Bank settlement withdrawal,

“The Knesset may hold an initial vote this week to require a national referendum prior to any evacuation of West Bank settlements…The proposed legislation would extend the 2014 Knesset basic law that requires a public referendum or approval of 80 parliamentarians for any Israeli withdrawal from territory in Jerusalem or the Golan Heights. Hauser’s bill would make the same step necessary should Israel decide to evacuate any of the 130 West Bank settlements where 450,000 settlers live.”

Gaza health officials say 1 in 3 tests positive for coronavirus,

“About one in three drug tests came back positive in the past 24 hours, the ministry said, sparking fears that the Gaza Strip may be spiraling toward a catastrophic health crisis. The Strip currently has 10,493 active patients, the vast majority of whom have been diagnosed in the past three weeks. In addition, 726 new cases were recorded Sunday morning. Hamas authorities have ordered a nighttime curfew to curb the spread of the virus in the coastal enclave.”

Israeli medical delegation enters Gaza to provide essential COVID-19 care,

“A delegation of Israeli doctors entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning to provide free treatment for hundreds of Gazans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The medical delegation — organized by Physicians for Human Rights – Israel — is the first of its kind from Israel to the coastal enclave since the beginning of the pandemic nine months ago. The twelve doctors, all of whom are Israeli Arabs, will conduct surgeries, medical training, and instruction for Palestinian medical teams, the rights group said. The delegation will bring some medical equipment and drugs with which to help combat the pandemic. But the doctors’ chief focus will be on other urgent cases that have been delayed as Gaza’s hospitals have filled with coronavirus patients.”

Gaza running out of testing kits, says official; WHO says 5000 swaps will be sent to Gaza,

“As the Gaza Strip is running out of testing kits, the World Health Organization (WHO) is getting ready to send 5000 swaps to the besieged sea enclave, according to a Palestinian Health Ministry official. Fathi Abu Warda, an advisor to the Minister of Health, told WAFA that WHO has promised to send 5000 swaps to Gaza after its testing kits have run out. “We have been calling since yesterday on the World Health Organization to provide Gaza with swaps for testing of coronavirus, and it promised us today to resolve this problem in coordination with Health Minister Mai Alkaila,” he said. However, he added, the Health Ministry in Ramallah is also experiencing a shortage of testing kits.”

Gaza caught between full lockdown or collapse of health sector amid COVID-19 surge,

“A health catastrophe looms on the horizon of the Gaza Strip amid the already fragile health-care sector, while the government hesitates to impose a full lockdown due to the deteriorating economic situation.”

Palestinians of historic Jerusalem neighbourhood fear displacement,

“Even though Palestinian merchants have been suffering from arbitrary fines and compulsory closures of their shops since 1967, Abu Muhammad said the latest escalation is unprecedented. “On 10 November, we were surprised by an attack from forces including cadres from several Israeli institutions, among others: the income tax, intelligence, Israeli police, the Environment Protection Authority, the Consumer Protection Agency, property tax, and VAT,” he said. “They took us by surprise and started searching our shops and gave the traders subpoenas for interrogation the following day.” Abu Muhammad believes that the pressure on local Palestinian merchants aims to empty out the neighbourhood of its commerce and passersby in order to provide a comfortable setting for a family of Israeli settlers who moved into the area two years ago.”

Why are Palestinians being forced to prove their humanity?,

“By addressing cases like my family’s as isolated, humanitarian, legal crises, the innate injustice of Israel’s judicial system is ignored. Legality is not synonymous with morality. We don’t need to look far to find unjust laws that were legally upheld and defended for years: the U.S. Constitution’s Three-Fifths Clause, Jim Crow laws, Apartheid in South Africa, and more. Putting an atrocity in a uniform — and calling it “unkindness” — doesn’t make it less atrocious. But these fallacies aren’t anomalies: in fact, they control the narrative on Palestine. Be it on social media or university campuses, I can’t part my lips to speak about my experience of living in Jerusalem without having my integrity questioned; without being accused of complicity in atrocities I had no hand in. For years, I policed my language into palatability, carefully selecting the words with which I describe my oppressor so that they aren’t manipulated or misconstrued as antisemitism. I memorized the UN resolutions and international laws broken by Israel, and Israeli bulldozers still destroyed livelihood after livelihood.”

Hunger strikes shouldn’t be the only time to protect Palestinian prisoners,

“All Palestinian families know the meaning of having a relative in prison, and any Palestinian could be jailed without charge, just like al-Akhras. Since Israel began its military occupation in 1967, it has imprisoned almost 800,000 Palestinians; currently, it is holding more than 350 Palestinians without charge. This dominating role of the prison system highlights the arbitrariness and cruelty of an apartheid regime that has been enshrined in every aspect of Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians.”

Inside Mar Saba Monastery in the West Bank,

“The monastery is one of the most prominent Palestinian archaeological monuments. It is surrounded by magnificent natural sceneries showing the twists and turns of the valley. An 18-meter (59 feet) high tower called the Justinian Tower was erected next to the monastery in the sixth century and was used for observation…Mar Saba is located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under Israeli control. This area accounts for 61% of the West Bank, in which Israel has maintained almost full control following the signing of the interim agreement known as the Oslo II Accord between Israel and the PLO. In 1995, Israel divided the West Bank into three regions: Area A, Area B and Area C.”

Selective Conservation: Policy & Funding for Minority Heritage Sites in Israel,

Our new report ‘Selective Conservation’ compares the preservation of heritage sites identified with minority cultures in Israel with the preservation of heritage sites identified with Jewish history.  This is the first study (to the best of our knowledge) that examines the government’s policy regarding the preservation and development of non-Jewish sites with a focus on the system of laws, government initiatives, funding for sites and budgetary allocations.  The second part of the report presents three case studies of conservation efforts in three ancient cities: Beersheva, Ramle and Jaffa.

Israeli man attempts to burn down Jerusalem's historic Gethsemane Church,

“The 49-year-old Israeli suspect allegedly snuck onto the Gethsemane Church’s premises, poured flammable liquid on wooden pews and attempted to light them ablaze, according to local reports. He was stopped by Palestinian residents who handed him over to the police, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.”

Jerusalem municipality sparks controversy by renaming Damascus Gate steps,

“For Palestinians in Jerusalem, Damascus Gate is a site of community, culture and political significance – but in October, the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem erected a sign reading “Ma’Alot Hadar VaHadas, or “Hadar and Hadas Steps” in Hebrew, after Israeli border police officers Hadar Cohen and Hadas Malka, who were killed in confrontations with Palestinians at Damascus Gate in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The move is seen as a further step in what advocates say is a long history of Israeli authorities renaming geographic areas to erase Palestinian heritage.”


In backtrack, Bahrain won’t import settlement and Golan goods as made in Israel,

“Bahrain will distinguish between Israeli goods from disputed territories and those made in Israel proper, the country’s foreign minister said on Saturday, in comments that walked back a statement made earlier in the week by the Gulf kingdom’s trade minister…On Friday evening, the Industry, Trade and Tourism Ministry of Bahrain issued a statement saying that remarks a day earlier by the trade minister had been “misinterpreted” and that Manama remained “committed to UN, Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation resolutions regarding settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.”

Also See

The battle over Trump’s huge UAE arms deal, explained,

“On Monday evening, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met for a classified briefing with Trump administration officials to hear about a proposed $23 billion weapons sale to the United Arab Emirates. Right when it ended, one of the attendees blasted what had transpired behind closed doors. “Just a mind blowing number of unsettled issues and questions the Administration couldn’t answer,” tweeted Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy. “Hard to overstate the danger of rushing this though.” That remark underscored the growing political fight over the arms deal announced in early November, a standoff that could severely impact America’s relations with its authoritarian ally and the military balance in the Middle East. President Donald Trump wants to sell up to 50 F-35 fighter jets, nearly 20 Reaper drones, and around 14,000 bombs and munitions to the UAE — and he wants to do it before President-elect Joe Biden enters the Oval Office and potentially scuttles the sale. The administration has explicitly linked the massive arms package to Trump’s broader efforts to counter Iran and to the UAE’s normalization of relations with Israel in August.”

Also See

Israel 'Very Comfortable' With F-35 Sale to UAE, Ambassador Dermer Says,

“Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, said on Monday that Israel is “very comfortable” with the sale of F-35 planes to the United Arab Emirates, amidst growing skepticism in Congress about the Trump administration’s plan to sell dozens of advanced warplanes to the tiny Gulf country as part of a deal that included UAE normalization of ties with Israel. “We strongly believe this agreement, this arms package, will not violate the U.S. commitment to maintain Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge,” Dermer said on an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe.”

UAE responds to criticism from US senators on F-35 sale Read more: ,

“The UAE government in turn published a long response to Murphy from the UAE’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba. In the thread from the UAE Embassy’s Twitter account, the ambassador said the UAE had stopped fighting in Yemen, citing the withdrawal from Aden last year. “On Yemen, Senator Murphy is aware that the UAE ended its military involvement in Yemen in October of last year,” Otaiba said. The ambassador went on to say that the UAE’s past actions in Yemen helped the United States fight Iranian influence and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, sometimes referred to as AQAP. “The UAE’s intervention liberated large parts of the country from Iranian-backed Houthi control in the West and, working with the US, diminished the AQAP threat in the East,” Otaiba said. Addressing concerns about Israel’s military edge, Otaiba said Israel did not object to the sale. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in October that they are not opposed to the UAE receiving F-35s, although Gantz later accused Netanyahu of misleading him on the issue. The Senate may vote on the resolutions to block the sale the week of Dec. 7.”

Scoop: Israel lobbies senators to pass Sudan immunity bill,

“After a request from the Sudanese government, Israel has started lobbying senators and members of Congress to approve a bill that would give Sudan immunity from future lawsuits in the U.S. by victims of terrorism, senior Israeli officials told me. The immunity bill was part of a trilateral deal between the U.S., Sudan and Israel that included an agreement to begin the process of normalizing ties. Israeli officials are concerned that the normalization process will come to a halt if the deal unravels. The deadline for passing the bill is Dec. 14.”

Israeli, Jordanian foreign ministers meet, with plenty of issues on their agenda,

“Israel’s normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and Israel’s apparent rapprochement with Saudi Arabia worry Jordan, especially when it comes to its special custodian status in Jerusalem.”

Beitar Jerusalem soccer club pursues talks with Emirati investor,

“La Familia, for its part, isn’t throwing in the towel. At the beginning of the week, they covered the Teddy Stadium — Beitar’s home turf — with hate graffiti, including “F— DUBAI” and “Mohamed is Dead.” Beitar representatives hurried to erase the graffiti. On Dec. 4, about 100 fans of the group appeared on Beitar’s training field to protest the emerging deal. They broke through the fence, penetrated the field and forced the training session to stop. The fans cursed Hogeg, lambasted him with racial epithets, shouted to the players “Wear a keffiyeh already” and sang “Mohamed is Dead” and “F— you Khalifa.” However, they focused their racist curses and snarls on player Ali Mohamed, Beitar’s first soccer player with that name. The Jerusalem Beitar representatives called the police and the security guards expelled the fans from the site.”

Also See

Abraham Accords are 'opportunity' for Palestinians, Ashkenazi says,

“The landmark Abraham Accords that Israel has struck with two Gulf states are an opportunity for the Palestinians and do not come at their “expense”, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said Sunday. “The Abraham accords do not come at the expense of the Palestinians. Quite the opposite, they are an opportunity that should not be missed,” he said in a virtual address.”I call on the Palestinians to change their minds and enter direct negotiation with us without preconditions. This is the only way to solve this conflict,” he said.” “We believe as Israel moves from annexation to normalization, there is a window to solve this conflict,” he said, referring to its agreement to put annexation plans on hold in return for the normalization deal.”

The Israeli Domestic Scene

Blue and White meeting with finance minister ends with no deal,

“Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Finance Minister Israel Katz met at Gantz’s office at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on Sunday night in a last-ditch effort to resolve a dispute between Gantz’s Blue and White Party and Katz’s Likud to prevent an early election. The two leaders discussed the 2020 state budget, which legally must be passed by December 23, and the 2021 state budget, which Gantz has insisted on passing by December 31. Economy Minister Air Peretz, Tourism Minister Orit Farkash Hacohen and Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata accompanied Gantz to the meeting.”

Israel: Gantz says 'Hanukkah miracle' needed to avoid new elections,

“In an effort to avoid a new vote, Gantz met with Finance Minister Israel Katz on Sunday evening for a final effort to resolve the conflict between his Blue White party and the Likud, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders are due to discuss the state budget for 2020, which must legally be passed by December 23, and the budget for 2021, which Gantz wants to pass by December 31.”

Netanyahu thanks Trump on third anniversary of Jerusalem recognition,

“Israel is “deeply grateful” for US President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as its capital, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, the third anniversary of that proclamation. Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman hung a copy of the proclamation in the Prime Minister’s Office, next to former US president Harry Truman’s 1948 recognition of the nascent State of Israel.”

Attacks on Free Speech / Stifling Dissent / Lawfare

Palestinians: Victims of ‘cancel culture’,

“The expanded definition of anti-Semitism includes those who condemn the injustice to the Palestinians resulting from the foundation of the State of Israel. But when we rightly welcome a discussion of the injustices done to the indigenous peoples of America or the crimes of slavery and Jim Crow, how can we deny Palestinians the right to protest their expulsion and dispossession? And if we entertain a discussion about compensation to Native Americans or African Americans, why would we deem it anti-Semitic for Palestinians to demand repatriation and compensation? Unless, of course, we view Palestinians as less worthy of rights or inherently dangerous. Even before this current campaign to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, some major Jewish organizations made a determined effort to silence Arab Americans. Groups like the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, and the American Jewish Committee published reports warning of the danger posed by “pro-Palestinian” or “Arab propagandists.” As a result of this campaign, Arab Americans (myself included) were denied jobs, harassed, had speaking engagements cancelled, and received threats of violence. Much the same is being done today by the likes Canary Mission and Campus Watch. “

New from FMEP

Settlement & Annexation Report: December 4, 2020,


  • Israeli Courts OK (Again) Settlers’ Mass Displacement of Palestinians from Silwan, Eviction Notices Issued to 8 Palestinian Families
  • Har Homa E Settlement Plan Approved for Deposit
  • High Court Rules Against Ottoman Land Registration Laws, Paving Way for More Retroactive Legalizations and Presaging Ugly Land Registration Battle
  • Planning Committee Rejects Appeal Against Overtly Political Hebron Elevator Project
  • Likud Minister Calls For Israel to Enforce “Symmetry” of Construction in Area B + C of West Bank
  • Benny Gantz Make Clear His Support for Retroactive Legalization of Outposts on “State Land”
  • Bahrain: No Annexation. Also Bahrain: Settlements Are Israel
  • Aid to Amb. Friedman Appointed to Key Post, Will Stay In Control of U.S. Normalization Programs

Legislative Round-Up: December 4, 2020,

Covering provisions related to the Middle East in the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act, and more…