Top News from Israel & Palestine: January 5, 2021

What We’re Reading


Israel approves plan to seize more Palestinian land near Bethlehem,

“The Israeli occupation authorities approved a plan on Sunday to seize acres of Palestinian land near occupied Bethlehem, a local anti-settlement activist has revealed. Hasan Brejiyeh told Wafa that the land is Palestinian-owned by and will be used for the construction and expansion of colonial settlements. The plan, he insisted, is evidence that the Israeli government is facilitating settlers’ attempts to steal ever more Palestinian-owned land and property.”

Israeli occupation forces halt work on an agricultural road in northern Jordan Valley,

“Israeli occupation forces today halted work on an agricultural road to the east of Tayasir village, east of Tubas city in the northern Jordan Valley, according to a local activist. Mutaz Bisharat, an official in charge of monitoring Israeli colonial activities in the Jordan Valley, said that Israeli soldiers stormed the area east of the village and impounded a bulldozer belonging to a contractor who was laying the groundwork for a new agricultural road funded by the Ministry of Local Government.”

How Israel’s road projects are ensuring apartheid is here to stay,

“As the world began reeling from the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, Israeli authorities were busy with a string of infrastructural projects across the occupied West Bank. They include installing a new section of the separation wall, building bypass bridges for Israeli settlers, digging tunnels, and approving Palestinian-only separation roads in various locations east and southeast of Jerusalem. In pursuing these initiatives, Israel has been working hard to achieve its future geographic and demographic vision for the West Bank, turning what was once described by many as a “temporary occupation” into a permanent reality of apartheid.”

First-Ever Memorial Held in Silwan for Jew Slain in 1939 Arab Riots,

“The first-ever memorial day for Shlomo Madmoni was held on Monday in the village of Shiloah (Silwan) in eastern Jerusalem, also known as the Yemenite village. The event, initiated by the Shiloah public council, was attended by Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis.”


Israeli settlers damage Palestinian land and vandalise homes in West Bank,

“Israeli settlers launched a wave of separate attacks on Palestinian property in the occupied West Bank on Monday, with cars, homes and farmland vandalised, according to local media. Israeli settlers on Monday morning damaged Palestinian vehicles and homes in Sarta village, close to the West Bank city of Salfit. Local sources said a group of settlers threw stones at several houses and cars, while slashing the tyres of other vehicles in the village. Another group of settlers threw rocks at vehicles with Palestinian registration plates travelling along Road 465, north of Ramallah. Israeli settlers also reportedly uprooted Palestinian farmland in Khirbet Al-Farisiya in the northern Jordan Valley. Aref Daraghmeh, a local Palestinian activist, told the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) official news agency WAFA that settlers used bulldozers to level large areas of agricultural land, owned by local Palestinians, in Al-Farisiya.” Also see: 25 settler attacks on Palestinians reported since teen died in police chase (Times of Israel)

Honenu, prosecution trade barbs over Ahuvia Sandak probe,

“The right-wing legal NGO Honenu and the state prosecution took shots at each other on Tuesday over the investigation into the death of Ahuvia Sandak on December 21. In the latest twist of the controversy, Honenu lawyer Menashe Yaado accused Police Investigation Department (PID) director Keren Ben-Menachem of trying to cover up alleged police crimes in Sandak’s death, while Deputy State Attorney Shlomo ‘Mumi’ Lemberger accused Yaado of lies and defamation. Sandak was killed when the vehicle he was in flipped over while he and a group of activists fled from police, and while the police either accidentally collided with his car or purposely tried to force his car to stop.”

Settlers Control the Drones. The Israeli Army Then Pulls the Trigger,

“The Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration are acting in the West Bank under the orders of the settlers. We’ve known that for a long time, but the generator incident on Friday indicates how quickly our forces respond to the directive of their commanders. It’s important to note that the settlers would not have become the army commanders without their subordinates – the government and the security apparatus – wanting them to command. A few hours before an IDF soldier shot Harun Abu Aram, 24, who is now lying paralyzed, unconscious and ventilated in a Hebron hospital, a photography drone flew over the village of al-Rakeez, southeast of Yatta. We know that settlers had launched it around 9 A.M. on Friday, January 1 (Abu Aram’s birthday, as it happens). We know that its operators immediately reported something to the Civil Administration…” Also see: Palestinian man paralysed after being shot in the neck by Israel soldiers (Middle East Monitor); He grabbed his generator. They shot him in the neck (+972 Magazine)

Israeli forces raid Palestinian hospital in West Bank,

“Israeli forces raided a hospital in the occupied West Bank on Monday, causing panic among patients, according to the Palestinian health minister. In a statement, Mai al-Kaili said Israeli soldiers fired stun grenades inside the Thabet Thabet Hospital in the northern city of Tulkarem during the raid. Al-Kaila condemned the raid as a ‘new Israeli crime that contradicts all international conventions and norms, and the Geneva conventions’. She went on to appeal to the international community to ‘intervene to protect the Palestinian people and put an end to the repeated Israeli assaults’.” Also see: Israel forces raid, fire tear gas into West Bank hospital (Middle East Monitor)

When Sharing Data on the Occupation Is Treated as an Intel Breach,

“The attempt to explain the meaning of occupation to the occupier is like climbing a slippery wall. Statistics are an effective tool for anyone interested in conceptualization.”

Israel says Palestinian arrested in killing of settler,

“Israel’s internal security agency on Monday released details about a detained Palestinian suspected of killing an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank last month. The Shin Bet identified the suspect as Muhammad Cabha, 40, from a village near Jenin in the northern West Bank. It said he had previously served time in prison for ‘terrorist activity,’ without elaborating, but did not mention a connection to any armed group.Cabha is suspected of killing Esther Horgan, a 53-year-old mother of six, while she was out jogging in a forest near her home in the West Bank settlement of Tel Manashe on Dec. 20…The Shin Bet said Cabha decided to carry out the attack after a security prisoner he knew died of illness in prison about six weeks earlier. It said that on Dec. 20 he was in the forest to smuggle cigarettes through a security fence when he saw Horgan and decided to kill her.” Also see: Shin Bet: Esther Horgen’s killer scoped out area 6 weeks before attack (Times of Israel)

Officer shoots dead alleged Palestinian assailant in West Bank,

“An Israeli security officer shot dead a Palestinian man wielding a knife on Tuesday at the Gush Etzion junction on the West Bank after he allegedly tried to use it to carry out an attack. Gush Etzion junction is situated near a cluster of Israeli settlements southwest of the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, the military said in a statement. ‘(A) community security officer spotted a suspect approaching the junction. Following the suspicion, the security officer and an IDF soldier operated to stop the suspect by firing into the air,’ the statement said. ‘The suspect threw a knife at the officer, who responded with fire and neutralized the suspect,’ the statement added.” Also see: Palestinian attempts to carry out stabbing in West Bank, is shot dead, IDF says (Times of Israel)

Security forces arrest suspects in rock-throwing attack,

“Security forces have arrested several suspects in a rock-throwing attack in Judea and Samaria on Sunday that left an Israeli woman seriously wounded, the IDF reported Sunday evening. The operation, which rested on intelligence from the Shin Bet security agency, was ongoing. The village of Deir Nidham, some 19 km. (12 miles) northwest of Ramallah, has been blockaded, and roadblocks have been put in place on local traffic routes. The suspects have been transferred to the Shin Bet for interrogation.”

The Gaza Strip

As it hopes for long-term truce, Israel prepares new battle doctrine for Gaza,

“In the final days of 2020, the Israel Defense Forces released its annual figures for the year, and the data revealed that the Gaza Strip remains the least stable and most explosive arena in Israel’s environs…According to a recent report by Maariv military analyst Tal Lev-Ram, the IDF has concluded that if it inflicts rapid and heavy damage on Hamas, it can force it into a truce arrangement from a weak position. The IDF can achieve this objective through the use of more intense, accurate firepower, according to the report. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi has set an objective for the IDF’s Southern Command, which is responsible for Gaza, as well as for maneuvering divisions, the air force, and the intelligence directorate: that is to kill 300 Hamas military operatives and other terror faction members during every 24 hours of combat, thereby disrupting the enemy’s plans and shortening the length of the combat.”

After Political Partition Between the PA and Hamas’s Gaza, Now Economic Boycott,

“Israel has been increasingly successful at confronting its foes one on one. The Palestinians have not operated against Israel as a united force since 2007, and the threat of a Hamas boycott of PA goods might be deepening the divide between the two even further.”

Israeli firm provides Gaza with drinking water from the air,

“The densely populated Gaza Strip has long lacked sufficient drinking water, but a new Israeli project helps ease the shortage with a solar-powered process to extract potable water straight from the air. Unusually, the project operating in the Palestinian enclave, which has been blockaded by Israel since the Hamas terror group seized control there in 2007, is the brainchild of a Russian-Israeli billionaire Michael Mirilashvili.”

U.S. Scene

Settler leader urges Georgian Christians vote Republican in Senate race,

“Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan weighed in on Tuesday’s fateful Georgian runoff race for two Senate seats that will determine which party has a majority in Washington’s upper legislative body.In a special video message distributed to Christian voters, he urged them to support Israel, the Land of the Bible, by voting for the two incumbent Republican candidates, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. ‘The upcoming runoff in Georgia is very important for the future of the United States of America, but also to Israel,’ Dagan said. ‘It will determine who will control the Senate and the character of decisions that will be made. I ask of you, when you come to vote, please keep in mind who of the candidates follows the values of the Bible? Who will keep the biblical morals and work to preserve them?’ he said. ‘We here, in the Bible Land, are closely watching this tight race,’ Dagan said. ‘Every vote counts. We pray and hope that these values will prevail.’ He urged Georgian residents ‘to vote for the right candidates: those who have biblical values and will stand by them. I ask you, vote for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue for the US Senate.’” Also see: Senior Republicans recruit Yossi Dagan to drum up support in Georgia special elections (Arutz Sheva); How Israel Attacks Drove Warnock Into the Arms of a Centrist Pro-Israel Group (The Intercept)

Republican Jewish Coalition sitting out Trump’s effort to overturn election,

“The Republican Jewish Coalition is not taking a position on efforts by US President Donald Trump and a number of congressional Republicans to obstruct certification of Joe Biden’s election to the presidency. Meanwhile, the two Jewish Republicans in Congress aren’t saying where they stand on a quixotic effort by a growing number of Republicans not to certify Biden’s win.”

Israel hoping for last-minute F-35s from Trump administration,

“Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday said his government hopes to purchase a third squadron of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft from the United States before President Donald Trump leaves office on Jan. 20. ‘Without a doubt, we need to expand the F-35 array,’ Gantz told Israel’s YNet television. ‘Right now, we have two squadrons. I reckon we will expand that. That is what I requested of the Americans,’ he said.”


Coronavirus in Palestine claims 20 new victims, 1191 new cases, and 1804 recoveries in 24 hours,

“Coronavirus in Palestine today claimed the lives of 20 people while 1191 people have contracted the disease, and 1804 patients have recovered from it in the last 24 hours, according to Minister of Health Mai Alkaila. She said in her daily report on coronavirus in Palestine that nine people have died in the West Bank, six in the Gaza Strip, and five in East Jerusalem recorded over two days. The West Bank had 545 new coronavirus cases, most of them in the Ramallah district with 138 new cases, followed by Nablus with 70 cases, Hebron 69, Jenin 65, Tulkarm 52, and Bethlehem 39. A total of 683 patients have recovered in the West Bank. The Gaza Strip had 396 new cases and 866 recoveries in the last 24 hours, while East Jerusalem had 250 new cases and 255 recoveries recorded over two days.”

Palestinians say they are now trying to get vaccines from Israel,

“The Palestinian Authority is examining the possibility of obtaining COVID-19 vaccines from Israel, a senior PA official told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. PA officials have in the past few days approached the Israeli government to inquire if it would be willing to provide them with some of the vaccines it received, the official said. ‘We understand that the political echelon in Israel has to decide about this matter,’ the official told the Post.”

Palestinian Scene

Palestine holds "intensive contacts" for convening int'l peace conference: official,

“Palestine is holding intensive contacts on convening an international conference for peace, a senior official said on Tuesday. Palestine envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour told ‘Voice of Palestine’ that ‘intensifying the contacts comes in preparation for an open session scheduled for the UN Security Council on the 26th of January.’ He added that the Palestinian side relies on exploiting the current developments and changes in the international political arena to gain more international support for convening an international peace conference. He added that the current contacts focus on exploring the Security Council member states’ positions, ‘even if they have some ideas on practical mechanisms to push forward the holding of the desired international conference.’”

DJ Sama Abdulhadi released on bail, but barred from travel, after uproar from Palestinians,

“Palestinian DJ Sama Abdulhadi was released on bail on Sunday but barred from travel by authorities, after she was detained for over a week following a techno set at a religious and tourist site in the occupied West Bank. Abdulhadi was arrested on 28 December after she pre-recorded a private performance for Beatport’s ‘The Residency’ series at a shrine to the Prophet Moses, a figure revered in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. According to a press release, the event was attended only by 30 friends, relatives, and members of the crew who were working on the production and had the approval of the PA…When reached for comment by The New Arab, the PA’s ministry of endowment and religious affairs denied they had granted permission for any music event to take place at the shrine. A petition demanding the PA release Abdulhadi gained worldwide traction with 101,753 signatures before it was closed. The PA’s public prosecutor has accused Abdulhadi of violating article 275 of the penal code. This criminalises the ‘desecration’ of religious sites and symbols carried out with the aim of hurting the sensibilities of a particular group, her lawyer said. She faces a prison sentence of up to two years, if found guilty.”


No UAE role in return of Palestinian land: Commission,

“A Palestinian commission has denied an Emirati media report that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has pressured Israel to return hundreds of dunums of land in the Jordan Valley to the Palestinians. Al-Ain news portal earlier said that Palestinians were allowed to enter their land in Qaoun valley in the northern Jordan Valley after a 46-year ban ‘thanks to the UAE efforts.’ ‘This was a Palestinian struggle led by Palestinian institutions and landowners, who refused to give up their land for a half century,’ the Palestinian Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission (CWRC) said in a statement on Monday. The commission said its lawyer has managed to return the land to their owners in 2017. An Israeli court ruled in 2017 to return Qaoun valley to Palestinian owners and evacuated Israeli settlers from the area. The verdict was enforced last month.” Also see: PA denies claims UAE returned Jordan Valley farms to Palestinians (Middle East Monitor)

Israel-Europe ties improving, warming up to Abraham Accords - exclusive,

“The Foreign Ministry sees positive trends in Israel-Europe relations and has even won over some of the Abraham Accords skeptics. ‘For years, European states connected developing relations with Israel to the conflict with the Palestinians,’ Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said in a video conference with Israeli ambassadors across Europe on Monday. ‘The ministry’s goal has been to reduce the tension and the connection and continue advancing bilateral dialogue while dealing with the Palestinian issue.’”

Moroccan Islamists say Western Sahara comes before Palestinian cause,

“The General Secretariat of Morocco’s Justice and Development Party has decided to support King Mohammed VI’s decision to normalise relations with Israel. The Islamist party said that the Western Sahara file comes before the Palestinian cause. According to Hespress, a special meeting of the party secretariat on Sunday evening concluded that the party will stand by the decision of the monarch. The website quoted a senior party official as saying that all members of the secretariat agreed on the slogan ‘The national cause first and the Palestinian cause always’.”

With Qatar feud solved, are Saudis better placed for Israel normalization?,

“…with the diplomatic crisis behind them, is Kushner now in a better position to push Saudi Arabia to join its Gulf neighbors that have normalized with Israel and create an even more powerful front against Tehran? ‘It was an impediment to [normalization], but ending [the boycott of Qatar] is not in and of itself sufficient,’ said one senior US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ‘It’ll probably be difficult in the time that we have left, but at least it removes an obstacle,’ the official said.”

Israel Football Association questions finances of UAE royal over Beitar Jerusalem deal,

“Body responsible for approving deal to buy 50 percent stake in the notoriously racist club has raised questions over ‘significant gaps’ in the financial situation of Hamad bin Nahyan.”

UAE denies report it thwarted an Iranian plot to kill Israelis,

“The Emirati government on Monday denied an Israeli television report that its security services had arrested a number of Iranian suspects who were planning to carry out a terror attack against Israeli citizens in the country. ‘The Government of the United Arab Emirates has denied media reports circulating today regarding the foiling of an alleged attack in Dubai,’ it said in a statement. On Sunday night, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported that authorities in the United Arab Emirates had arrested a number of Iranians in Dubai and Abu Dhabi over the previous few days on suspicion that they planned to carry out terror attacks there.”

Greece, Israel to sign largest-ever defense procurement deal,

“Under the $1.68 billion, 20-year contract, Israel’s Defense Ministry and Elbit Systems will establish and operate a flight school for the Greek air force.”

Israeli Domestic Scene

Israel is 'not a democracy', says ex-Shin Bet head,

“In the West Bank, we are not a democracy. We have two different legal systems, one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians, this is not a democracy and we are deceiving ourselves.”

The law that made being Israeli meaningless for me,

“I am not a Jew. I am a citizen of Israel. I served in the Israel Defense Forces for 26 years. I fought in many horrific battles. I was wounded three times, I lost friends, soldiers, commanders, and a beloved brother. And ever since July 2018, when the Knesset passed the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, I feel that Israel has betrayed me. I have no doubt that the Knesset’s intention in passing this law was to negate the value of civil equality proclaimed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. I have heard former members of the Knesset and mayors call the Arabs of Israel and Druze ‘guests’ in the State of Israel because it is the state of the Jewish people.”

Anti-Free Speech, Pro-Settlement Lawfare

Queens deputy borough president pick withdraws after controversial Israel tweets emerge,

“A newly named Queens deputy borough president abruptly withdrew from the post Monday, hours after his past tweets criticizing Israeli policies and lobbying efforts began to attract scrutiny. Michael Hurwitz, director of food access and agriculture at GrowNYC, was tapped to serve as one of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards’ top officials on Sunday night. Hurwitz was set to start the job in February but stepped aside Monday afternoon after some observers began to share a handful of his tweets denouncing Israeli settlements, an Israeli political leader and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. He also defended Rep. Ilhan Omar, who has consistently criticized Israel’s policies regarding Palestine.”

France targeted for giving $10m to Palestinian group promoting good governance,

“The French Development Agency (AFD) has been targeted by a pro-Israel lobby group for donating almost $10 million last year to a Palestinian organisation to promote good government practice in the occupied West Bank. The pro-Israel NGO Monitor accuses France of supporting the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign with its donation for the NGO Development Centre (NDC).”

Palestinian news platform QNN banned by TikTok,

“A popular Palestinian news platform said that it was removed from popular social media app TikTok without any notice, in a move it claimed to be connected to news content it published. Quds News Network’s (QNN) website and social media accounts frequently publish videos on Palestinian news that quickly go viral, including 1,200 videos on TikTok, before it was banned.”