Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 27, 2021

What We’re Reading


Gaza: Apparent War Crimes During May Fighting,

“Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups carried out attacks during the May 2021 fighting in the Gaza Strip and Israel that violated the laws of war and apparently amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. The Israeli military and Palestinian authorities have a long track record of failing to investigate laws of war violations committed in or from Gaza. Human Rights Watch investigated three Israeli strikes that killed 62 Palestinian civilians where there were no evident military targets in the vicinity. Palestinian armed groups also committed unlawful attacks, launching more than 4,360 unguided rockets and mortars toward Israeli population centers, violating the prohibition against deliberate or indiscriminate attacks against civilians. Human Rights Watch will separately release findings on rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups.”


Also see:

The Ballad of Balloons and Fish,

“The essence of the tension between Israel and Gaza, in recent days and in general, is neither balloons nor fish. That’s only what’s on the surface. But far fewer Israelis are exposed to the complexity of the Israeli policy of closures for the purpose of military and political bargaining. As far as they’re concerned, one morning several Palestinians woke up and decided for their pleasure to launch incendiary balloons into the fields of thorns in the Eshkol region. We will never find a solution for Gaza if we continue ignoring the context.”

West Bank & East Jerusalem: Occupation/De Facto Annexation

Bennett won't order Arab eviction from Sheikh Jarrah [for now] - gov't source,

“The government does not plan to evict Arab residents in a property dispute in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem, in light of how heated the matter has become, a source close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. The High Court of Justice scheduled a hearing for Monday on the eviction of four Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, the east Jerusalem neighborhood known in Hebrew as Shimon HaTzadik. Lower courts have upheld claims that the property is owned by the Nahalat Shimon Company, which seeks to develop the land for Jewish housing. Even if the verdict allows for the eviction of the Palestinian residents, the court is unlikely to order the state to enact it or give a deadline to do so, the source close to Bennett said, and the government will take advantage of that in order to not fuel the flames of conflict in Jerusalem.”

Israel continues demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank,

“Israel expanded its policy to demolish houses and facilities of Palestinians, including those funded by international donors.”

Jerusalemites face off Israeli attempt to demolish sit-in tents,

“Palestinian activists and Jerusalemites yesterday gathered at two tents set up in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in an effort to thwart Israeli attempts to dismantle the tents which are used to hold rallies against the occupation’s plans to forcibly displaced Palestinians from the area to make way for illegal Jewish settlers. The residents of Sheikh Jarrah and activists gathered in the two tents after an Israeli demolition warrant was delivered to the organisers of the sit-it, resident Nabil Al-Kurd said.”

IDF evacuates seven settler homes in Beit Dror outpost in surprise move,

“The IDF moved Tuesday to evacuate seven settler families from their illegally built modular homes in the Beit Dror outpost, located in the South Hebron Hills. ‘I call on the defense minister and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and all of his partners who love the Land of Israel to stop this unnecessary evacuation,’ said South Hebron Hills Regional Council head Yochai Damri. The outpost itself is located on an abandoned base that had been used briefly as an emergency service center for the area. It is located within the boundaries of the South Hebron Hills settlement of Adora. Families moved onto the site in 2016 after the shooting terror attack on Route 60 in the South Hebron Hills in which Miki Mark, 48, of the Otniel settlement was killed. As of April of this year, some 13 families lived there and another seven moved into modular structures there.”

A water spring in the occupied Jordan Valley targeted for takeover by Israeli settlers,

“After fencing an area where a vital water spring is located in Ein al-Hilweh area in Wadi al-Malih in the occupied northern Jordan Valley, Israeli settlers last night began construction work in the area to take over the spring and prevent shepherds from using the water for their sheep, according to a local official. Mutaz Bisharat, from the Tubas governorate, told WAFA that the settlers from the illegal Maskiyot settlement proceeded to do construction work around Ein al-Hilweh spring, which they seized several months ago and planted trees around it turning it into a park for their use only and off-limit to the Palestinians. He said the settlers aim to close off the spring to the Palestinian shepherds who make a living out of herding.”

Palestinian injured, 2 detained in Israeli raid in West Bank,

“A Palestinian youth was injured and two others detained in an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, according to eyewitnesses. An Israeli military force broke into Jenin city in the northern West Bank and arrested two Palestinians, the witnesses said. Clashes erupted between angry Palestinian residents and Israeli forces during which the latter used live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets and tear gas canisters, they added. One Palestinian was injured, while dozens suffered temporary asphyxiation as a result of tear gas used by Israeli soldiers, the witnesses said. There was no comment from the Israeli army on the report.”


Bennett aides to travel to DC for meetings with Biden staff ahead of PM’s visit,

“Senior aides to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will fly to Washington next week for meetings with their American counterparts in preparation for the premier’s visit to DC, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed to The Times of Israel Monday. National Security Council chairman Eyal Hulata and Bennett’s diplomatic adviser Shimrit Meir will meet with White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and NSC Middle East and North Africa coordinator Brett McGurk, the official said, corroborating an earlier Axios report.”

The debate on Israel sharpens among US Jews,

“Democrats have long appealed to the Jewish community with hawkish views and rhetoric on Israel. But the polling data, which has been trending in this direction for years, clearly demonstrates that their target audience wants to hear a different message. Democrats trying to justify hawkish policies on Palestine will not be able to hide behind the Jewish community for much longer. They support aid to Palestinians, they disapprove of the occupation, and they want the US to press for its end, albeit while maintaining the Jewish state and paying attention to Israel’s ‘security concerns’. Most importantly, what we are seeing is a broadening and sharpening of the policy debate. Opinions that were once considered anathema are now part of the mainstream discourse in the Jewish community which, for better or worse, sets the tone for the US. It’s a trend Joe Biden and Democrats must pay attention to as they move forward.”

Ben & Jerry’s, Boycotts, & More

Democratic nominee for NYC comptroller says he supports Ben & Jerry’s West Bank ban,

“Brad Lander, the Democratic nominee for New York City comptroller, on Monday criticized the state comptroller office’s moves against Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, over the ice cream makers decision to end sales in the occupied West Bank.”

Progressive Jewish groups urge US governors not to penalise Ben & Jerry's,

“A coalition of progressive Jewish groups is calling on US governors to block efforts to penalise Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever over its decision to stop selling ice cream in Israeli settlements. In a letter to 33 governors of states with anti-BDS laws, the groups said that boycotting Israeli settlements is not a form of antisemitism, but rather a way to encourage a two-state solution – a policy long supported by both Democrats and Republicans.”

PA: Boycott the settlements,

“Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet leader Mohammad Shtayyeh is calling on the Security Council and the United Nations to implement their decisions related to ‘Palestine’. In a speech at the start of the cabinet meeting on Monday, Shtayyeh said that this Wednesday, at the request of the ‘State of Palestine’, the UN Security Council will discuss the issue of Israel and the ‘settlers’ harming the Palestinian people, including in ‘occupied’ Jerusalem, the continued Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip and the ‘suffering of the prisoners in the prisons of the occupation.’ Shtayyeh also praised the decision of Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling its products in ‘Israeli settlements’.”


Israel Domestic Scene

Far-right MK ejected from Knesset plenum after calling Arab lawmaker ‘terrorist’,

“Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of Israel’s far-right Otzma Yehudit Party, was forcibly removed from the Knesset plenum on Monday after locking horns with Joint Arab List Knesset member Ahmad Tibi. Ben-Gvir, whose faction is part of the hawkish Religious Zionist Party, was addressing the Knesset during a session on coronavirus restrictions. He began his address by acknowledging the Knesset speaker and other lawmakers, but notably snubbed Tibi, who, as deputy speaker, was filling in for Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy. Tibi interrupted Ben-Gvir and demanded he be addressed as ‘Mr. Deputy Speaker,’ as is Knesset tradition, but Ben-Gvir refused, saying, ‘You are a terrorist, not a ‘Sir’ or a ‘Mr.’ You should be in the Syrian parliament, not here.’ After calling Ben-Gvir Tibi to order three times, Tibi then ordered Knesset ushers to remove him from the podium and then the plenary hall. When Ben-Gvir refused to leave, the ushers had no choice but to physically drag him from the hall.” Also see reports (including video) in Jerusalem PostMiddle East Monitor, Times of Israel, Haaretz, i24,


Israel Wants to Have Its Ice Cream and Cybersecurity Too,

“In excoriating Ben & Jerry’s, the Bennett-Lapid coalition is, in effect, defending decades of illiberal policies: military rule of the occupied territories, creeping annexation and a blurred distinction between 1948 and 1967 borders that insists on Israeli sovereignty between the river and the sea. At the same time, they are implicitly acknowledging that it’s not easy to maintain an enlightened and peace-seeking image (the Abraham Accords notwithstanding) when an ice cream company calls attention to the gap between rhetoric and reality. Nor when a duly licensed Israeli company climbs into bed with some of the most repressive governments on the planet. The question is what happens now. Israel sees its high-tech sector as a point of national pride, and it constitutes an integral part of its economy and power in the world. It is not clear whether heightened scrutiny will bring consequences for Israel’s actions, either at home in the occupied territories or secreted in mobile phones around the world. But while the United States and other Western democracies have largely come to terms with Israel’s restrictions of Palestinians’ rights, now that some of that surveillance technology is being exported to restrict free speech in other parts of the world, the world is standing up and noticing. Israel is accustomed to having its ice cream and eating it too. That apparently comes with a price, and not just for Palestinians.”

U.S. Lawmakers Call for Punitive Measures Against Israeli NSO Over Spyware Allegations,

“A group of U.S. lawmakers on Monday urged the U.S. government to take a series of actions against the Israeli firm NSO Group following reports that it leased military-grade spyware to authoritarian regimes around the world that allegedly used it to hack the phones of politicians, journalists, human rights activists and business executives. Reps. Tom Malinowski, Katie Porter, Joaquin Castro and Anna G. Eshoo issued the most extensive criticism to date from U.S. lawmakers concerning the reports on NSO’s Pegasus spyware, echoing Malinowski’s comments to Haaretz on the need to regulate the ‘hacking-for-hire industry’ as well as rejecting NSO Group’s denials of the reports.” Members’ statement is here. Also see: Democrats call for possible action against NSO over Pegasus revelations  (The Guardian)

Gantz heads to Paris to discuss NSO Group with French counterpart,

“Defense Minister Benny Gantz was scheduled to depart on Wednesday for a brief visit to France, where he will meet with his French counterpart to discuss a range of issues, including the controversial Israeli cyber firm NSO Group, whose software may have been used to target French President Emmanuel Macron. Gantz will meet in Paris with French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly to hold discussions on the ongoing crisis in Lebanon and the nuclear negotiations with Iran, as well as to ‘provide an update on the NSO affair,’ the Defense Ministry said in a statement.” Also see: Israeli defense minister to talk NSO with French counterpart (AP)

Exporting the Tools of Apartheid,

“Israeli intelligence products are quite literally performing surveillance work for other undemocratic regimes around the world, and ties built and cemented with arms and intelligence deals are embedding Israel in the very center of a global authoritarian axis. This is another clear reminder that what happens in Palestine doesn’t stay in Palestine. The abuses of the Israeli state against Palestinians—in which US taxpayers are complicit—have consequences around the world.”


Palestinian Olympic official urges athletes to forfeit Israel matches,

“Palestine Olympic Committee chairman Jibril Rajoub has publicly encouraged Olympic athletes to boycott Israel and forfeit matches against Israelis.Rajoub posted photos of himself with Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine on social media, writing that he appreciates Nourine’s ‘courageous stance refusing normalization.’ Nourine refused to face off against Israel’s Tohar Butbul. ‘We worked a lot to reach the Olympics… but the Palestinian cause is greater than all of this,’ he told Algerian television.”

International Olympic Committee ‘concerned’ by forfeits to avoid Israeli judoka,

“A representative of the International Olympic Committee said Tuesday that it is ‘monitoring’ reports that two judokas forfeited their matches rather than face an Israeli opponent, and vowed to “take all necessary measures” against the athletes. Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool failed to appear at his slated competition against Israeli judoka Tohar Butbul in the men’s 73-kg division on Monday, without providing a reason. On Saturday, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine pulled out of the contest to avoid facing Butbul, citing his support for the Palestinian cause. ‘Obviously the IOC is always concerned in these cases and is monitoring it very closely,’ International Olympic Committee director of solidarity James Macleod told a media briefing in Tokyo on Tuesday. ‘Clearly if there are flagrant abuses of the Olympic charter, the IOC will take all necessary measures in that respect.’”

Palestinian Authority/PLO

Free and fair Palestinians elections must include East Jerusalem: UN experts,

“UN human rights experts have urged both the Palestinian Authority and Israel to reschedule the presidential, legislative and municipal elections ‘in the very near future’ and ensure that they are ‘peaceful and credible.’  In April, Palestinian president Mahmood Abbas issued a presidential decree postponing the elections — originally planned for May and July — ‘until the participation of our people in Jerusalem is guaranteed.’ He blamed Israel for uncertainty about whether it would allow Palestinians to vote in East Jerusalem. Expressing concern over the postponement, the UN experts recalled the importance of the elections as a means to ‘address the long-standing internal political divisions, to strengthen accountable institutions and to take an important step toward achieving the fundamental national and individual rights of the Palestinian people.’”

Fatah: No chance of reconciliation with Dahlan,

“Palestinian movement Fatah has ruled out any possible of reconciliation with dismissed leader Mohammad Dahlan. Speaking to Al-Watan Voice, spokesperson Hussein Hamayel said: ‘Dahlan is behind us, and all the analyses regarding his return to the movement are false.’ This came after Gaza MP Ashraf Jumaa wrote on Facebook: ‘We are awaiting a dramatic incident.’ Some people predicted it could be a reconciliation between Fatah and Dahlan. ‘We do not have any interest in reconciliation with Dahlan,’ Hamayel stressed, noting that the decision to dismiss Dahlan was taken by Fatah’s Central Committee. Meanwhile, Dahlan’s Democratic Reform Bloc said he ‘is always seeking to reunite Fatah’, while calling to “stop the autocratic domination over Fatah.”

PLO Ordered to Pay Compensation to Achille Lauro Hijacking Victims,

“After Decades Long Litigation, Achille Lauro’s Victims Win Historic Judgment Against the PLO. The Israeli Court Ordered the PLO to Pay 1 Million Shekels to the Victims.”

Region & Normalization

Israel-UAE oil deal cancellation could lead to severing ties,

“A decision by Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister, Tamar Zandberg, to freeze a major oil deal with the UAE to Israel might lead to ties between the two countries being severed, UAE officials have warned. The deal to develop the Eilat-Ashkelon oil pipeline would enable UAE oil tankers to unload in Eilat from where oil would be pumped to the Mediterranean port and on to its destination. The route would bypass Egypt’s Suez Canal.”

Jordan said to nab Islamic State terrorists for plot to attack Israeli soldiers,

“Four Jordanians allegedly involved with the extremist Islamic State terror group have been charged with plotting to attack Israeli soldiers near the Jordanian border, the Jordanian newspaper al-Rai reported. The four suspects, who were arrested by Jordanian intelligence, planned to attack and overcome Jordanian border guards before reaching the Israelis on the other side of the border near Wadi Araba in the south, the Monday night report said.”

Iran Says it Detains Agents Working for Israel, Seizes Arms Cache,

“Iran said on Tuesday its security forces had arrested a network of agents working for Israel and had seized a cache of weapons it said were planned for use during recent unrest sparked by water shortages in the country, state media reported. Iran often accuses its enemies or rivals abroad, such as Israel and the United States, of trying to destabilize the country by stoking protests and violence.” Also see: Iran says armed Mossad cell arrested over plot to provoke clashes at protests (Times of Israel)

Russia Confirms Israel’s Bombing of Iranian Stronghold in Syria,

“The Russian Ministry of Defense said that the Syrian air defense forces thwarted, at dawn on Sunday, a strike carried out by two Israeli fighters against the Sayeda Zainab area, south of Damascus, which is known as the stronghold of Iran and its militias in Syria. General Vadim Kulit, deputy chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, told the Russian news agency TASS that two Israeli fighter jets were intercepted while attacking targets near Damascus early Sunday.”

Free Speech/Lawfare/Weaponization of Antisemitism

How the IHRA definition of antisemitism is used to muzzle criticism of Israel — the Winnipeg example,

“Champions of the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance – Working Definition of Antisemitism (IHRA-WDA) insist that their definition is merely aspirational, meant only to rally opposition to hatred of Jews and is not legally binding. But an event in the Canadian city of Winnipeg is a perfect and lasting example of how toxic is the definition’s threat to freedom of expression about Israel and Palestine and how it is really meant to be used. It was the nightmare scenario that critics of the IHRA-WDA warn about and a lesson to all of us.”

At CUFI gathering, Christians and Jews alike vow to fight BDS ‘economic anti-Semitism’,

“…Like the previous day, the proceedings began with another speech by CUFI founder Pastor John Hagee, who came onto the stage holding a bulging folder. ‘I hold in my hand legal documents from 33 states that stops BDS—which is Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions—dead in its tracks in 33 states. BDS is economic anti-Semitism,’ he said in a thunderous voice as he lifted the folder for the attendees to see. ‘Christians United for Israel is not a briefcase toting, paper shuffling, sit around the table and talk about it all day organization. We are a get-it-done group of people. I say again, dialogue without action is a waste of time, and I don’t dialogue really long. I want to find out what you’re going to do and then go do it.’”

ADL partners with PayPal to research how extremists share money online,

“The Anti-Defamation League has joined with PayPal to research how extremists use financial platforms to fund criminal activity. The partnership will focus on ‘uncovering and disrupting the financial pipelines that support extremist and hate movements’ by targeting ‘actors and networks spreading and profiting from all forms of hate and bigotry,’ according to an ADL news release published Monday morning. Their findings will be ‘shared broadly across the financial industry and with policymakers and law enforcement,’ according to the release.”