Top News from Israel & Palestine: February 17, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Settlements, Annexation

After delay, Israel allows transfer of first COVID vaccine doses to Gaza,

“Israeli authorities, after a two-day delay, transferred a consignment of Russian COVID-19 vaccines to Gaza on Wednesday following a formal request by the Palestinian Authority…The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to a request for comment on the reason for the delay in the delivery, though some Israeli lawmakers had demanded conditioning the transfer of the vaccines on the return of Israeli captives held by Hamas.”

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Israel court rules to expel six Palestinian families from East Jerusalem homes,

“A Jerusalem district court has issued a decision to evict six families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem, where they have lived for almost 70 years, to make way for Israeli settlers. Israeli NGO Peace Now said in a statement on Tuesday that the Palestinian families, comprised of 27 people living in four houses, were notified of the decision on Monday, and were given until 2 May to vacate their homes. The organisation said that the decision was ‘part of an organised move designed to dispossess a Palestinian community of its home and establish a settlement in Sheikh Jarrah in its place’.”

The District Court Rejected the Appeal of 6 Families from Sheikh Jarrah,

“The story here is not legal but political. The court is only the tool by which settlers use with the close assistance of state authorities to commit the crime of displacing an entire community and replacing it with settlement. The Israeli government and settlers have no problem to displace thousands of Palestinians in the name of ‘the Right of Return’ to properties before 1948, while they strongly claim that the millions of Israelis living in Palestinian properties before 1948 cannot be evicted. Since the evacuation of the Mughrabi neighborhood for the purpose of expanding the Western Wall plaza in 1967, there has been no such deportation in Jerusalem. On the table of the prosecution in the International Court of Justice in The Hague is a complaint about the displacement process led by the government in Sheikh Jarrah and in Batan Al-Hawa. The government can still stop this injustice.”

Palestinian families forced by the Israelis municipality in Jerusalem to self-demolish their homes,

“The Israeli West Jerusalem municipality today forced two families to self-demolish their houses and a third family a structure under the pretext that they were built without a permit, according to a Palestinian group. The East Jerusalem-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that the Israeli municipality issued demolition notices against structures, including houses, owned by three Palestinian families in Jerusalem, forcing them to carry out the demolition themselves to avoid paying exorbitant costs if the municipality demolishes them. Jihad Awadallah, one of the owners of the structures, said that his family demolished its two-story building in Shufat neighborhood, which was built 20 years ago. He pointed out that his family tried all these years to obtain a permit without success and that it has paid over $35,000 in fines.”


(Tuesday) Israeli settlers arrested on terrorism charges amid rise in violence,

“Israeli Police on Monday said that, in a joint operation with the Shin Bet security service, they had arrested a number of people suspected of attacking Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank.”

(Wednesday) Three Jewish terrorist suspects may be released by Friday, Jerusalem Post

“…On Tuesday, the Nazareth District Court put pressure on the Shin Bet and the police to decide what it would actually charge the three with by cutting the length of their remaining pre-indictment detention. Originally, a lower court had extended their detention until at least the middle of next week. In contrast, Judge Arafat Taha ruled on appeal that the detention would only be extended until this Friday.”

Woman dies of heart attack in Israeli raid of her house near Bethlehem,

“A 67-year-old woman died of a heart attack following an Israeli military raid into her house in Abu Njeim village, east of Bethlehem city, according to security and local sources. They confirmed that Rahmeh Abu ‘Ahour had a fatal heart attack following an Israeli military violent raid into her brother’s house. The soldiers broke into and ransacked the house, turning it upside down and seized Palestine flags and banners, spreading panic and fear among the family members and causing Abu ‘Ahour to lose consciousness. She was rushed to a hospital in Beit Jala city, west of Bethlehem, where she died of a heart attack.”

Here’s how experts on the Middle East see the region’s key issues, our new survey finds,

“A strong majority, 59 percent, describes the current reality for Israel and the Palestinians as ‘a one-state reality akin to apartheid.’ An additional 7 percent view it as a ‘one-state reality with inequality, but not akin to apartheid.’ Only 2 percent describe the situation as a temporary Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; 30 percent describe the current situation as semi-permanent occupation by Israel.”


Knesset bill outlines plan to defend Israel from ICC probe,

“Shurat Hadin believes that whoever serves as ICC chief prosecutor, it is still vital that Israel stop cooperating with the court, of which Israel is not a member. Therefore, a bill has been prepared that would block the ICC from carrying out investigations in Israel or investigating Israelis…The bill includes a series of steps to prevent investigations against Israel, including five-year prison sentences and financial penalties for any civilian group, such as an NGO, that hands information of any kind over to the ICC, either directly or indirectly; a five-year sentence for anyone who provides services to the ICC; a prohibition on any financial ties, direct or indirect, with the ICC, including the possibility that the ICC might hire investigators to operate in Israel; a ban on any governmental agency handing any type of information over to the ICC or its representatives without explicit approval from the justice minister; a ban on handing over anyone the ICC wants to investigate or arrest to the ICC or any third party; and a ban on ICC representatives entering Israel or conducting any activity within Israel’s borders. In addition, the bill proposes defining any assets the ICC holds in Israel as assets owned by a terrorist organization; ‘meaningful’ government statements about any foreign officials helping the ICC from within Israel; and a governmental obligation to provide legal and financial assistance to any Israeli who becomes the subject of an ICC investigation. Shurat Hadin said that the bill has been authored and is ready to be presented to the 24th Knesset as soon as it begins its work.”

More European countries speak out against ICC despite EU support,

“Austria and Lithuania join Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic in criticizing the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber ruling.”

ICC assures Netanyahu decision to investigate Israel 'not political',

“…In a direct answer to Netanyahu, who called the decision ‘pure anti-Semitism,’ the ICC writes that the court was an ‘independent, incorrupt’ judicial body that played a critical role in providing a legal solution to the most serious crimes under international law. The ICC said it operated solely under the legal framework of the Rome Statute, which granted the court its authority. The ICC document also noted that its ruling could be appealed and outlined the actions needed to file an appeal. It also stated that the court’s ruling on its authority to investigate Israel did not comprise a decision to proceed with an investigation, and that a decision about an investigation lay with the chief prosecutor. In addition, the ICC’s response noted that if an investigation were launched, it would not be limited to one side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and would also investigate the actions of the various Palestinian groups, including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as possible war crimes.”

Palestinians Should Drag Architects of Settlements to the ICC,


“There is an understandable Palestinian political, emotional and national need to see Israeli politicians, army brass, officers and soldiers brought to trail for their attacks in 2014 and subsequently against civilian population in the Gaza Strip, and for having killed and maimed thousands of children, unarmed young men, women and the elderly. But there is no doubt that the seasoned lawyers whom Israel will hire to defend them will come up with dozens of tricks to avoid disclosing the identities of those who committed them, dragging the matter out for years and turning the process into a vengeful saga against the Hamas authorities in Gaza. The crimes and the suspects must be selected from places where Israel cannot make the Palestinians the guilty party. How would the planners and contractors respond when asked why they built a neighborhood exclusively for Jews on the land of a Palestinian village? That they were just following orders? Their bank accounts will prove that they committed crimes of apartheid in return for cash.”

Biden Policy

Biden’s first call with leader in region will be with Israel’s Netanyahu - White House,

“US President Joe Biden’s first call with leader in region will be with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said on Tuesday. Some have accused Biden of snubbing Netanyahu for not calling him nearly a month into his presidential term. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden’s call to Netanyahu would be soon. ‘Israel is of course an ally. Israel is a country where we have an important strategic security relationship, and our team is fully engaged, not at the head of state level quite yet but very soon,’ she said.”

Ministers approve major arms deal to bolster air force,

“An Israeli ministerial committee approved the purchase of new jets, aircraft and munitions from US companies, an Israeli official said on Tuesday, in a deal that would be worth billions of dollars. ‘A ministerial procurement committee has approved the purchase of a new F-35 squadron, four new refueling planes, and a large quantity of munitions,’ the official said on condition of anonymity to discuss matters still under negotiation. It would be the first foreign military sale to Israel announced under the new administration of President Joe Biden. Since sales take months to process, the genesis of the deals likely dates back to the Trump Administration.”

Palestinian Scene

Palestine Urges UNSC for Legal Action Against Israeli Aggression,

“Palestine’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Riyad Mansour, sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) stressing that Israel’s increasing illegal policies and actions have worsened conditions in occupied Palestinian territories. Remarking that the annexation of the occupied territories is Israel’s eventual aim, Mansour called on the UNSC to take concrete steps in line with international law and UN resolutions.”

Ashrawi will not run in Palestinian elections, to mentor new generation,

“Hanan Ashrawi, the most famous woman in Palestinian politics, will not be running in the first elections for 15 years, opting instead to mentor a new generation of political leaders…’I want to set an example that people can leave office,’ she told Reuters. ‘I have been supporting and mentoring many young men and women in different capacities… it’s important that I do that in a variety of ways, and I am,’ she said between back-to-back meetings with diplomats at MIFTAH, her civil society organization to promote global dialogue and democracy.”

Israel arrests Hamas officials in occupied West Bank,

“As the Palestinians get ready for elections later this year, the Israeli occupation forces have arrested several Hamas officials in the occupied West Bank, reported on Tuesday. Sheikh Adnan Asfour and Hassan Mansour MP were among those arrested on Monday night in Nablus…It is believed that the detention campaign is an effort by Israel to deter and undermine Hamas participation in the upcoming elections.”

Over 93% of eligible voters register for upcoming Palestinian elections,

“More than 93 percent of Palestinian eligible voters have registered for May legislative and July presidential elections, the first in 15 years, the electoral commission in Ramallah said Wednesday. The high rate reflects ‘awareness of citizenship rights and people’s thirst for the ballot box,’ Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh wrote on Twitter. More than 2.8 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and two million people live in the Gaza Strip, an enclave ruled by the Islamist group Hamas. Of these, more than 2.6 million, or 93.3 percent of Palestinian eligible voters, had registered by the deadline late Tuesday, said commission spokesman Farid Taamallah.”

Palestine hails Turkey’s desalination efforts in Gaza,

“The head of the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), Mazen Ghoneim, hailed Turkey’s efforts Tuesday to support Palestinians and the nation’s water sector. The praise came during a meeting between Ghoneim and Ahmet Riza Demirer, Turkey’s Consul General in Jerusalem. The meeting discussed priorities of strategic projects that PWA is working to implement, especially the central desalination plant program in the Gaza Strip…Demirer praised developments to implement the project, reiterating support for the Palestinians. Sides are also expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in coming days.”

Report: Turkey strengthening influence in West Bank with investments,

Israel Today newspaper revealed yesterday that Turkey is strengthening its influence in the occupied West Bank, under the guidance of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, by pumping investments worth $10 million to build a new industrial zone in Jenin. The newspaper referred to an interview of the Palestinian Economy Minister, Khaled Al-Osaily, with Anadolu Agency, during which he stated that ‘there is a plan to build Turkish factories in Jenin’s industrial zone.’”

Son of slain ‘collaborator’ sentenced to death by Hamas,

“A Hamas court on Wednesday sentenced a Palestinian man to death by hanging after convicting him of killing an activist who murdered his father for allegedly collaborating with Israel.”

Israeli Scene

Knesset panel bans Arab Labor candidate over Memorial Day comments,

“In a move widely expected to be overturned by the Supreme Court, the Central Elections Committee on Wednesday voted to ban Labor’s No. 7 candidate Ibtisam Mara’ana from running in the upcoming election over her past controversial comments about Memorial Day and other statements that her critics have deemed anti-Zionist. Two petitions had been filed against Mara’ana: one by Labor member Maozia Segal, an IDF veteran who was badly injured during his service, and backed by other party members as well as the right-wing Likud, New Hope and Religious Zionism parties; and the second by the far-right Otzma Yehudit party…The petitions called for Mara’ana’s removal from the Labor slate for declaring in the past that she had deliberately ignored an annual two minutes of silence held on Memorial Day, which honors Israel’s fallen soldiers and terror victims, as well as other comments that the petitioners deemed anti-Zionist or supportive of terrorism.”

'183rd time': Israel destroys Bedouin village yet again,

“An Arab Bedouin village in the southern Negev region has been demolished by Israel for the 183rd time, a local Palestinian source said on Wednesday. The al-Araqib village, home to some 22 Palestinian families, has been destroyed eight times since last year, Aziz al-Touri, a member of the Committee for the Defense of al-Araqib, told Anadolu Agency. ‘Palestinians will rebuild the destroyed structures as soon as possible. As long as we are alive and free, we will never leave al-Araqib,’ he asserted. In a bid to occupy the land, Israeli authorities have razed houses in the village multiple times since 2010. The residents of al-Araqib are Arab citizens of Israel, who were displaced in 1951 when the nascent state of Israel claimed the area as ‘state land.’”

Lawfare & Weaponization of Definition of “Antisemitism” 

Imposing an antisemitism definition on academics undermines freedom,

“I am a British academic and an Israeli national of Jewish descent. My adult life, both in Israel and elsewhere, has been marked by a consistent struggle against injustice, including opposition to Israel’s occupation, dispossession and segregation of Palestinians. As such, I have been greatly perturbed by UK education secretary Gavin Williamson’s attempt to impose the IHRA working definition on UK universities. Fighting antisemitism is a must, but the IHRA document undermines that fight, threatening free speech and academic freedom, while constituting an attack on the Palestinian right to self-determination and on the struggle to democratise Israel.”

CAMERA on Campus Plans to Disrupt “Israel Apartheid Week”,

“…CAMERA on Campus plans to disrupt this year’s ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ with a new campaign that rebuts the lies and informs students with facts about Israel. The #ApartheidWeekExposed campaign will include a website that features a virtual ‘apartheid wall’ scrawled with common falsehoods told by anti-Israel activists such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). When a viewer hovers his or her mouse over these falsehoods, a text box will appear with facts that refute SJP’s allegations.”