Top News from Israel & Palestine: January 7, 2021

What We’re Reading


IDF: Shot that paralyzed Palestinian wasn’t aimed at him, troops were in danger,

“Army says another rioter grabbed the soldier’s gun as he was firing into the air, a claim that has been disputed by Palestinian eyewitnesses — who say IDF has yet to contact them…The left-wing B’Tselem human rights group accused the military of lying about the incident to justify the shooting of Abu Aram. ‘Fifty-three years of the occupation have given the IDF practice in justifying the killing and wounding of Palestinians, if they were holding a generator, playing in their yard or were shot in the back. Fifty-three years of occupation have trained the Israeli media to publish any lie that the IDF spokesperson pulls out,’ the group said.”

Also see:

Prominent Palestinian activist found guilty of obstructing security forces, assault,

“Issa Amro has been detained multiple times, often after confrontations with settlers. Ahead of hearing, Amnesty International says Amro faces ‘politically motivated charges for his peaceful activism against Israel’s military occupation and illegal settlements.’”

Silence in the Face of Demolition and Pogroms ,

“Two campaigns are now taking place in the territories: demolition of homes and structures, and pogroms by the “hilltop youth.” Last Friday an Israel Defense Forces soldier shot Haroun Abu Aram, a Palestinian from the South Hebron Hills, in the neck. Shooting in the neck is unusual for the IDF, but it is symptomatic of what is happening in Israel’s backyard. The first campaign: According to the figures of B’Tselem, in 2020 Israel demolished 152 residential units and 412 structures (not including demolitions in East Jerusalem). It is Israel’s insistence on destroying unwanted communities that has led to a situation whereby a soldier shot an unarmed man in the neck, although the victim did not represent a danger and was only trying to hold onto a generator…The second campaign: repeated pogroms by the ‘hilltop youth,’ the military arm of the settlement enterprise, against Palestinians. Pogromchiks enter the heart of Palestinian communities, sow destruction and attack residents. About a week ago, according to a report by Yesh Din: Volunteers for Human Rights, they wounded a 13-year-old girl in her bed in the village of Kifl Haris; she was hurt by a stone that smashed into the balcony of her home. The pogroms take place almost every night. They are documented and the IDF is aware of them – often the army arrives to escort the pogromchiks home. So they won’t catch cold, God forbid. Senior defense establishment officials have warned that the settlers’ rampaging has gotten out of control. The statistics are familiar to them, if not to the public.”

Israel's demographic battle for Jerusalem leaves Palestinians struggling to survive,

“In-depth: Settler groups are engaged in a house-by-house struggle for Jerusalem, using Israel’s legal system to take over Palestinian homes.”

Three Palestinians injured in a fresh settler attack near Ramallah,

“At least three Palestinians were injured today in attack by hardcore Israeli settles in the village of Kafr Malik, to the east of Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank, according to local sources. Illegal hardcore settlers, protected by an Israeli army unit, attacked with stones and beat up Palestinian farmers who were plowing their land in the village, injuring three of them. The three were moved to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.” Also see Twitter thread (Hebrew, with photos) from Yesh Din’s Lior Amihai on latest settler attacks

Israel uproots thousands of trees from Palestinian lands in West Bank,

“Israeli occupation forces yesterday uprooted thousands of olive trees in the West Bank’s central occupied city of Salfit. Eyewitnesses told the media that occupation forces closed the ‘western side of the town, known as the ‘Khallat Al-Abhar’ area.’ ‘Army buldozers have uprooted olive trees and seedlings which belong to the Palestinian citizens, Nesfat Ezzat Moussa, Ghazi Hosni Musa, Omar Abdullah Musa and Muhammad Musa,’ they were quoted as saying.” Also see: Israel uproots 2,000 olive trees in W. Bank: Official (Al Anadolu)

Occupation army locks down entrances to Ramallah village,

“Israeli occupation army locked down today the entrances to the village of Al-Mughayir, to the northeast of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, local sources said. Soldiers shut down the entrances to the village banning entry and exit of local Palestinians to and out of the village, and forcing them to use alternative routes to enter or leave the village.”

Israeli authorities approve new settlement plan east of Qalqilia,

“The Israeli occupation authorities approved a new settlement plan to seize Palestinian land in the eastern Qalqilya governorate for the benefit of settlement construction. Governor of Qalqilya, Rafe Rawajbeh, said Israeli authorities approved a plan to seize 1008 dunums of Palestinian land near ‘Alfei Menashe’ settlement, which was built illegally on the lands of the towns of Azzoun, Kafr Thulth, and Nabi Elias to the east of Qalqilya.”

Palestinian Scene

Palestinian succession battle heats up as Biden prepares to take office,

“In the run-up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, Mohammed Dahlan, the former leader of the PLO’s Fatah faction in Gaza, has launched a major media campaign against Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.”

No more pay-for-slay: Bank of Palestine will no longer be paying terrorists,

“The Bank of Palestine has recently discontinued its work with the accounts of terrorists who receive benefits from the Palestinian Authority. According to official statements from the terrorist organizations, the bank has informed terrorists and their family members that they must withdraw all funds and close their accounts.The decision stems from the warning the Bank of Palestine received from the Palestinian Media Watch, a non-profit Israeli institute that researches the Palestinian society…The Palestinian Authority prepared for the shift in advance. It paid a large part of terrorists’ salaries several months in advance and is looking for new ways to continue the payments despite international pressure to stop doing so.”

Egyptian FM speaks with Israeli, PA counterparts to build momentum for talks,

“According to statement by Cairo, conversations come as part of efforts to renewing peace process, amid Palestinian push for peace conference.”

How will Gulf 'sulha' impact the Palestinians? - analysis,

“Palestinians from across the political spectrum welcomed this week’s sulha (reconciliation) between Saudi Arabia and its allies and Qatar and said that they are happy to see the Arab countries resolving their disputes peacefully.But Palestinians seemed unsure whether the developments in the Gulf were good or bad for the Palestinian issue. While some Palestinians said that Arab unity would strengthen the Palestinians, others speculated that Qatar was now closer to joining the ‘train of normalization’ with Israel.”


Will latest effort to mend Fatah-Hamas ties succeed? (Daoud Kuttab),

“The latest round of intra-Palestinian reconciliation efforts appears to be the most serious one yet, as discussions about elections are to take place as soon as possible. Jibril Rajoub, Fatah’s secretary-general and the lead PLO official behind the latest surge of activity, delivered a letter to President Mahmoud Abbas on Jan. 2 from Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and then was able to return a positive written response from Abbas.”

Cautious Optimism in Ramallah Regarding Biden ,

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) has a long wish list for the Biden administration, but its initial approach will be restrained and realistic. It is understood among the Palestinian leadership that the new administration will not address the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the short term. Regardless, Israel must establish reliable channels to President-elect Biden, and the sooner the better.”


Netanyahu calls ‘rampage’ in DC ‘disgraceful,’ lauds Trump as Mideast peacemaker,

“After lengthy delay, PM denounces assault on Capitol without naming president or specifying circumstances, says US democracy will prevail; then thanks Trump for peace breakthroughs.” Also see: Netanyahu condemns riots, but remains effusive about Trump (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli reporter harassed by antisemitic pro-Trump protester at US Capitol,

“I’m gonna get in your face now and I’ll tell you why, yid (a term for Jew),” shouted the pro-Trump protester.”

Will US-Israel relations go down in flames with the Trump presidency?,

“The effect has been the creation of an image of near-total identification between Israel and Trump, along with total identification between recent US policies favoring Israel and Trump.”

Israel's Intelligence Minister to i24NEWS: Keeping current US policy on Iran vital for more peace treaties,

“Israel’s Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen has urged the US President-elect Joe Biden to maintain the current US policy on Iran. In his Wednesday interview for i24NEWS, Cohen stressed that ‘the 8 years of [US President Barack] Obama’s tenure did not lead to any regional political achievements’ in the Middle East. ‘In comparison, during President [Donald] Trump’s 4 years in office, there was determined activity against Iran,’ he noted. ‘If you want to maintain regional stability, if you want to advance further peace agreements, it is important that the policy vis-à-vis Iran continues,’ the official said, addressing the remarks to Biden.” Also see: Iranian general: ‘Strong evidence’ Israel behind hit on nuclear mastermind (Jewish News Syndicate)


Morocco 'committed to opening Israel embassy': report,

“Morocco is ‘committed’ to opening an embassy in Israel as part of a normalisation deal, Israeli officials told Axios, in a major step in the development of the two countries’ diplomatic relations. A US-brokered agreement to establish ties between Israel and Morocco last month had promised the opening of liaison offices in both countries but not embassies.”

Is the UAE plotting with Israel against Palestinian refugees?,

“A report that the United Arab Emirates is secretly colluding with Israel on a potential plan to eliminate the United Nations agency that cares for Palestinian refugees – a move that could prevent those refugees from ever returning home – should be taken seriously.  According to the French daily Le Monde, Israeli and Emirati officials have forged a ‘strategic axis’ in which they are considering ‘a plan of action aimed at making UNRWA progressively disappear, without conditioning this on any resolution of the [Palestinian] refugee problem’. The UAE’s foreign minister did not respond to Le Monde’s request for comment on the matter.”

Imran Khan: Pakistan Will Never Recognize Israel,

“The defining situation in Palestine is ‘exactly the same situation’ in Indian-administrated Kashmir, Pakistan’s prime minister said Wednesday, stressing that his country cannot recognize Israel and what Israel has done to Palestine.”

Etihad Aviation Training and Israir Airlines Enter Into a Historical Partnership,

“Etihad Aviation Training (EAT) has signed a contract with Israir Airlines to offer Full-Flight Simulator pilot training for Israir Airlines’ Airbus A320 pilots. As part of the agreement, Israir will dry lease EAT’s Full-Flight Simulators at the training facility located in Abu Dhabi. The training will be conducted by Israir instructors at the Etihad training facility.”

Israeli Domestic Scene

Palestinian labor limited due to corona, Israeli builders struggling,

“With another full lockdown beginning Thursday night, restricted travel from the Palestinian territories will leave Israel’s building industry facing another period of uncertainty. ‘We were just informed that the country has decided to close up the Palestinian territories to daily travel for workers,’  Israel Builders Association Deputy Director-General Shay Pauzner said Thursday. ‘That means that if a worker wants to work, he will have to decide by Sunday to commit to remaining inside Israel for the remainder of the closure, and not returning to his home every night for at least two weeks.’”

Some Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem Palestinians wary of coronavirus vaccine,

“As Israel leads the world in the rate of coronavirus vaccination, some of its Arab citizens and Palestinians in East Jerusalem are regarding the shot with suspicion.In what officials see as a result of misinformation about possible side-effects or supposed malicious properties, turnout for vaccines has been low among Arabs, who make up 21% of Israel’s population, and Jerusalem Palestinians.”

Anti-Free Speech, Pro-Settlement Lawfare

Williamson wrong to force universities to abide by antisemitism definition, say lawyers,

“A group of eminent lawyers, including two former appeal court judges, has accused Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, of ‘improper interference’ with universities’ autonomy and right to free expression. They say that Williamson’s insistence that universities adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism or face sanctions is ‘legally and morally wrong’. Their statement comes amid some academic resistance to Williamson’s letter to university vice-chancellors in October, in which he warned: ‘If I haven’t seen the overwhelming majority of institutions adopting the [IHRA] definition by Christmas, then I will act.’” [text of the lawyers’/judges’ letter is here]

Appointed NY official resigns after anti-Israel tweets draw scrutiny,

“A newly appointed official in Queens borough, New York, stepped down on Monday after tweets from his past criticizing Israel circulated social media and attracted public criticism, local news reported. Michael Hurwitz was supposed to start his new position as Queens Borough President Donovan Richards’ deputy in February. But several tweets written by Hurwitz in the past couple of years were shared online and drew enough criticism to make him step down. A few of Hurwitz’s tweets focused on denouncing Israeli settlements, while others included harsh language against Israeli politicians and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Another tweet written by Hurwitz shared by users defended Rep. Ilhan Omar, considered a harsh critic of Israel.”