Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 16, 2021

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New from FMEP

FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report,

Welcome to FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report, covering everything you need to know about Israeli settlement activity this week.

July 16, 2021

  1. The E-1 Settlement is Back on the Agenda
  2. Tender for Israeli Construction on Ruins of Lifta Stirs Controversy as Plan Barrels Forward
  3. Likud Submits Annexation Bill for all of West Bank
  4. Bonus Reads

New episode of "Occupied Thoughts" podcast: Palestine at the intersection of regional, global, and historical struggles,

In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, Lara Friedman talks to Arab Spring veteran activist Iyad El-Baghdadi about the way forward for Palestinians — both on the ground in Palestine and in the diaspora.

Human Rights/Occupation/Annexation/Apartheid

Joint Militias: On a Single Day in May, Israeli Settlers & Soldiers Cooperated in Attacks That Left Four Palestinians Dead ,

“While Israeli media reported that the killings occurred amid “clashes” — implying the widespread protests over Al Aqsa and the Gaza bombings — at least four of the deaths occurred during deliberate attacks by settlers and soldiers on Palestinian villages, an investigation by Local Call and The Intercept found. The joint attacks by Israeli settlers and soldiers were not linked to protests in the targeted villages; no demonstrations preceded the violence in three of the four locations. The incursions all occurred at almost the same time, around 2 p.m., and all involved the settlers destroying agricultural land, including by setting fires, as well as stone throwing and the use of live ammunition.

Attacks on Palestinians by stone-throwing settlers, as Israeli soldiers stand idly by, are a common occurrence in the occupied Palestinian territories. But scenes like those from May 14 — settlers and soldiers attacking villages in apparent cooperation, with live ammunition — are unprecedented. “The only way I can describe this is by calling it militias,” said Quamar Mishirqi-Assad, an attorney and a partner in Haqel-Jews and Arabs in Defense of Human Rights, an organization that works in the Israeli court system to represent Palestinians who have faced settler violence. “These cases, in which soldiers enter villages together with settlers, and in which there is massive gunfire by settlers — this is unprecedented.”

Palestine runs dry: ‘Our water they steal and sell to us’,

“As Palestinians suffer through severe water shortages in the searing summer, illegal Israeli settlers nearby enjoy unlimited quantities not only for drinking but to fill swimming pools, irrigate crops, and wash their vehicles. Black-and-white water tanks are ubiquitous on the roofs of Palestinian homes across West Bank cities and towns, to be filled when their water taps literally run dry for weeks at a time….The Israeli authorities refuse to grant the necessary licenses to the Palestinian water authorities to operate freely in the areas classified as C and under complete Israeli security and administrative control, whether drilling additional wells or installing booster pumps. Israel directly controls 85 percent of water resources in the West Bank and has a say in how the rest is distributed, Palestinian officials told Al Jazeera. The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, is seeking Israeli licenses to dig additional wells in the West Bank to fill the enormous need for more water.”

New Israeli government's land seizure - where's the EU?,

“But Europe’s lip service to Palestinian human rights, EU policy and international law will not hide the obvious fact that Israel’s utter contempt of the EU’s demarches – the most recent, sixth, forcible transfer attempt was perpetrated by the new government under minister of defence, Benny Gantz, from Lapid’s “change coalition”, not by Netanyahu’s government – led to no consequences whatsoever. This will rightly be seen here in Israel as nothing but acquiescence to our government’s policy of destroying Palestinian communities, to further facilitate its takeover of their land.”

Israel arrests dozens of Hamas-linked students in West Bank,

“Israel says it arrested dozens of Palestinian students in the occupied West Bank who are linked to the Hamas militant group. The military said late Wednesday that those arrested belong to a Hamas student group at Birzeit University and were “directly involved in terror activities, including money transfers, incitement and the organization of Hamas activities.” The statement provided no evidence to back up the claims.”

Israel razes largest Canaanite cemetery in West Bank,

Hassan Brijieh, the director of the Office of the Wall and Settlement Resistance Authority, said that the Israeli reports indicated that the occupation used bulldozers to raze the cemetery during the expansion works of bypass road No. 60 connecting Jerusalem and Hebron. The cemetery is estimated at four dunums (1 acre) in the area of Khilat Ein Al Asafir, south of Khader. Brijieh stressed that this is a blatant attack on Palestinian antiquities according to international law and is considered a war crime against the Palestinian people and their history.”

11 Palestinians shot, injured, dozens suffocate in Nablus-area clashes,

At least 11 Palestinians were shot and injured, and dozens of others suffocated during clashes that broke with Israeli forces in the towns of Beita and Beit Dajan, to the south and east of Nablus, respectively.” Also see:Palestinians suffocate as Israeli forces suppress Kufr Qaddoum weekly march” (WAFA) and “Palestinians march in protest of Israel’s construction of a military road northeast of occupied Jerusalem” (WAFA)

Israeli soldiers make sexual threats to Palestinian women in videos from occupation,

“Now the organization [B’Tselem] has released two videos from the occupied territories that document this reality in chilling ways– as they show Israeli occupiers, some in uniform, abusing Palestinians in sexually degrading terms during the recent Gaza war. Published July 12, the videos capture the racist, homophobic, and misogynist abuse of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers. Both videos were shot by Palestinians in occupied Hebron on May 13, during the Muslim holiday of ‘Eid al-Fitr. (And B’Tselem issued a press release about the dehumanizing language.)”

Israel Recruited the Jewish National Fund to Secretly Buy Palestinian Land for Settlers,

“The Defense Ministry recruited the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) to purchase hundreds of dunams of private, Palestinian-owned land in the West Bank for settlers who worked the land while its owners were denied access to it, according to documents examined by Haaretz. In addition to that transaction, an investigative report by Haaretz reveals the details of other secret land purchases that were made by Himanuta, a JNF subsidiary, which concealed them from the JNF’s board of directors. Documents seen by Haaretz reveal a series of such deals made by Himanuta in 2018-2019, including the purchase of properties for settlers who had squatted in them more than a decade earlier, various irregularities in the purchase procedures, and cases in which the reliability of documents involved in the acquisitions appears highly questionable. The details of these transactions had previously appeared only in internal reports.”

Calling out Israeli apartheid: AJ Public Liberties speaks to Omar Shakir,

“Omar Shakir is Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch (HRW)….He spoke to Al Jazeera from Amman about the influential Human Rights Watch report concluding that the Israeli government’s domination Palestinians amounts to apartheid, the report’s reception and his advocacy in Israel-Palestine.”


A reading into the story of Jerusalem,

“For two years, Grassroots Al-Quds has carried out excessive research in order to update our community stories: detailed profiles of 39 Palestinian neighborhoods, villages and refugee camps in the Jerusalem district.” See the research here, “Discover Al-Quds.”

Israeli Club Calls off Match With Barcelona Over Jerusalem,

“The owner of Israel’s Beitar Jerusalem soccer club said Thursday that he called off a friendly match with international powerhouse Barcelona over its refusal to hold the event in contested Jerusalem.”

Children in Silwan traumatised by Israel's ethnic cleansing policy,

Palestinian children in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan have been traumatised by Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign, including threats to demolish their homes. In a video report, the Maydan Al-Quds TV channel showed children who said they were afraid of displacement and are haunted by the idea of losing their homes and memories.”

Israeli Weapons & Tech in the Region/World

A private Israeli firm has helped governments hack journalists and human rights advocates,

“An Israeli hacking-for-hire firm has helped government clients spy on more than 100 victims around the world, including politicians, dissidents, human rights activists, embassy workers and journalists, according to a Microsoft report. The firm, which goes by the name Candiru, is part of a burgeoning industry of largely unregulated spyware companies that sell snooping technology to government intelligence services and law enforcement agencies — often with questionable human rights records. Candiru has likely sold spying tools to governments in the Middle East and Asia, according to the cybersecurity research group Citizen Lab, which identified people targeted by Candiru’s malicious software and helped Microsoft compile its report. Those governments then use the spying tools independently.” See alsoIsraeli spyware firm linked to fake Black Lives Matter and Amnesty websites – report” (The Guardian) and “Israeli Firm’s Spyware Used Against Dissidents, Microsoft Says” (Bloomberg)

What Vietnam Is Doing With Israeli Phone-hacking Tech,

“Cellebrite, which announced in April that it was going public, works with law enforcement agencies and has a long list of clients. Cellebrite’s flagship product is the Universal Forensic Extraction Device, or UFED, which enables law enforcement agencies to extract data from locked mobile phones in their possession. The company says it only sells the system to legitimate law enforcement agencies and defense forces, and has boasted that it is used to help with serious crimes like pedophilia and terror. However, investigations by Mack and others have revealed that many of its clients use it for other means, for example targeting journalists or pro-democracy and human rights activists. Cellebrite operates with active support from the Israeli government, specifically the Defense Ministry, which supervises both defense exports and dual-use exports, including by cyber and tech companies. This support is particularly relevant with regard to Vietnam, which not only buys arms and technologies from Israel, but is also licensed to produce Israel’s Tavor and Galil ACE rifles. Mack has detailed a long list of high-level visits and meetings to the country, including by senior Defense Ministry officials, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former President Reuven Rivlin.”

Going public? Cellebrite’s tech is incompatible with human rights, investors must make a stand,

“Israeli digital intelligence firm, Cellebrite, creates technology that is used to violate human rights across the globe. As the company bids to go public, Access Now and other civil society organizations are urging the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC), NASDAQ, and other stakeholders to stop this alarming deal until Cellebrite demonstrates its commitment to safeguarding human rights….Cellebrite admits that its products pose risks to human rights, and has openly stated they “may be used by customers in a way that is, or that is perceived to be, incompatible with human rights.” It also publicly noted transactions where its Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) tool was reportedly misused in Hong Kong, Russia, and Bangladesh. Yet Cellebrite underplays the probability of misuse of its products by omitting other reported transactions that carry human rights risks — underscoring the need to address inadequacies in voluntary disclosure, currently being considered by the U.S. Congress.”

Israeli company inks drone deal to boost UAE’s security ,

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) contracted an Israeli security company specializing in making drones to enhance its security services and shorten emergency response times. An Israeli defense website Friday said the Dubai police have signed a deal with an Israeli aerobatics company to use its drone system for security services to secure the Dubai-based World Expo 2020 in October. The drone system will replace security personnel and will be faster in its response to any incident.”

Morocco, Israel sign cyber security deal,

“Morocco and Israel yesterday signed the first bilateral cooperation agreement in the field of cybersecurity. The head of the Tel Aviv diplomatic mission in Rabat, David Govrin, explained on Twitter that the agreement will allow Morocco and Israel to participate in “operational cooperation, research and development, and the sharing of information and knowledge.””

Israeli press review: Police promote nationwide facial recognition system,

Police in Israel have been promoting a controversial bill that would allow the installation of nationwide facial recognition cameras in public spaces, roads and border exits. The new bill will grant the police automatic power to install and operate facial recognition cameras without a rigid check-and-balance system of other authorities, Ynet reported. The police will be able to monitor Israeli citizens and residents in public spaces in real-time and match their faces to the data stored in public databases. The bill will also allow police to place cameras on every street in every city and inside buildings, such as malls or government offices, operating facial recognition technology indefinitely. The Israeli army and various government ministries will gain unlimited access to the biometric information collected by these cameras.”

Israeli drone crashes inside Lebanese territory,

An Israeli army drone on Friday crashed inside Lebanon, the Israeli military said on Friday. In a Twitter post, Avichay Adraee, the army spokesman said: “A while ago, during a regular activity, an Israeli army drone crashed inside Lebanese territory as a result of a technical malfunction.” “There is no fear of information leakage,” he said, without giving further details. There was no immediate comment from Lebanese authorities in this regard.”

Israeli Scene

Israeli Illustrators Draw on the Horrors of Palestinian Child Detentions,

“Social worker Nirith Ben Horin is founder and chairwoman of Parents Against Child Detention, which operates under the umbrella of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel…The artists worked with them to create a series of illustrations entitled “A Nightmare in Eight Stages.” The project illustrates the different stages of child detention…Ben Horin says the illustrations are intended to expose Israelis to a phenomenon that they are unaware of or that they repress. “Thousands of minors – teenagers and children – are detained by the Israeli security forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem each year. According to our data, there are about 5,000 detentions a year. Other organizations cite hundreds each month. Whatever the case, this is a daily affair. Every night, while we Israelis are sleeping, houses in the West Bank are broken into and children are pulled out of bed.””

Ahead of Bennett’s Washington visit, Israel prepares 'Raisi file',

Bennett, Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz are now moving along two parallel paths. They are trying to quickly allocate budgets to restoring Israel’s military capacity to inflict significant damage on the Iranian nuclear program, estimated at 25 billion shekels ($7.64 billion), a hefty sum in Israeli terms. They will also try to obtain economic aid from President Joe Biden, along with special weapons components and armaments. They have no idea whether these efforts will bear fruit, but feel they have no choice.”

Controversial Arab-Israeli woman appointed to Knesset security panel,

“Ibtisam Mara’ana of the Labor Party was a controversial figure even before she was sworn into the Knesset. Parties on the right wanted to disqualify her, claiming that she supports terrorism, citing comments she once made on social media. The matter was brought before the Supreme Court, which ruled that Mara’ana was eligible to serve in the parliament….this week, Mara’ana became a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the most prestigious of all the Knesset committees. This committee has always been considered a stronghold of the country’s security hawks. Traditionally, its members include former defense ministers and chiefs of staff. It was only in the last few years that women and Arabs were even appointed to the committee. The only Arab who ever served on the committee was current Minister of Regional Cooperation Issawi Freij, who was chosen by Meretz to be its representative on the committee back in 2007. Inevitably, Mara’ana’s appointment to the committee has raised controversy, particularly among the Israeli right.”

U.S. Scene

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr Completes Productive Visit to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Tel [Aviv],

On July 16, 2021, Deputy Assistant Secretary Hady Amr concluded a series of productive engagements with a wide range of Israelis and Palestinians during his week-long visit to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Tel Aviv. His visit was guided by the objective of the United States to advance equal measures of freedom, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians alike in ways that are tangible, and achievable in the near term and beyond. His visit successfully advanced the goal of deepening understanding with Israelis and Palestinians in this regard….The current focus of the United States is on improving the situation on the ground and relations between Israelis and Palestinians, which together are important in their own right, and are also important as a means ultimately to advance towards a comprehensive peace.”

Netanyahu urged Trump to attack Iran after he lost the presidency — report,

“Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Donald Trump to launch a military strike against Iran after it was clear that the former US president had lost the 2020 election, a report said Thursday. General Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, battled to prevent Trump from ordering a strike against Iran, while the president was circled by hawks, including Netanyahu, pressuring him to execute such a strike, according to a report Thursday by the New Yorker.” Also see:“You’re Gonna Have a Fucking War”: Mark Milley’s Fight to Stop Trump from Striking Iran”” (New Yorker)

Everything you need to know about next week's Jordan-US summit,

Jordanian King Abdullah II will be the first Arab head of state to meet at the White House with President Joe Biden next week. The visit is expected to set the tone for the new administration (which will be meeting with the Iraqi PM later in the month) and its policy in the region.”

More American Jews are calling Israel an ‘apartheid’ state, and big organizations are struggling to fight the trend,

“Two days after the rally, a poll of U.S. Jews was published with some surprising findings: 25% agreed that “Israel is an apartheid state,” 34% agreed that “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to racism in the United States” and 22% agreed that “Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians.” The numbers only climb among younger Jews: More than a third of those under 40 gave Israel the “apartheid state” label. The numbers are striking given American Jewry’s longstanding and steadfast support of Israel, even throughout times of right-wing governments, such as the ones led for years by recent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that have pushed policies that clash with the majority of their individual beliefs. But American criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza over multiple military conflicts in the last decade — most notably in 2014 and May of this year — has steadily grown harsher, and this year saw an unprecedented public outcry, accentuated by several influential celebrities. Many feel more comfortable agreeing with influencers and others who label Israel’s military response to rockets fired from Gaza as “genocidal” — even if human rights experts caution that the term is an exaggeration in this case…Another factor over the last year, since the murder of George Floyd, is the burgeoning awareness of racial disparities among Americans. Many of Israel’s critics have increasingly framed Israel’s conflict as one of racial injustice.” Also see:Survey: A quarter of US Jews agree that Israel ‘is an apartheid state’” (JTA)

Palestinian Scene

U.S. point person on Israel-Palestine says PA facing dangerous economic crisis,

“The State Department’s point person on Israel-Palestine warned Israeli officials during his talks in Jerusalem this week that the Palestinian Authority is facing dangerous economic and political crises, three Israeli officials told me….Hady Amr, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli-Palestinian affairs, arrived in the region on Sunday, meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s aides and senior government officials in Ramallah before meeting Israeli officials in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Israeli officials who attended the meetings with Amr or were briefed on it told me he stressed that he came back from Ramallah very concerned. “I have never seen the Palestinian Authority in a worse situation,” Amr said, according to Israeli officials. The Israeli officials added that Amr told them that the combination of the financial and political crises puts the Palestinian Authority in a very precarious situation.“It is like a dry forest waiting to catch on fire,” he said, according to sources.” See also:Never been worse’: US envoy voices agony over PA’s decline in meeting with Israeli officials” (The New Arab)

Long Reads // Commentary

It’s Time to Name Anti-Palestinian Bigotry,

“The reason this bigotry goes undiscussed is because, in mainstream American discourse, the word “anti-Palestinian” barely exists. It is absent not because anti-Palestinian bigotry is rare but because it is ubiquitous. It is absent precisely because, if the concept existed, almost everyone in Congress would be guilty of it, except for a tiny minority of renegade progressives who are regularly denounced as antisemites.”