Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 28, 2021

What We’re Reading

West Bank & East Jerusalem: Settlements, Apartheid, Human Rights

Israeli forces kill Palestinian man in occupied West Bank,

“A Palestinian man has been killed in Israeli gunfire in the occupied West Bank, the scene of confrontations between protesters and Israeli forces for weeks, Palestinian officials said. Shadi Omar Lotfi Salim, 41, was shot dead late on Tuesday near the flashpoint Palestinian village of Beita, the Palestinian health ministry said. Beita deputy mayor, Mussa Hamayel, told the AFP news agency that Israeli soldiers killed the man as entered the village on his return from work. “He was killed in cold blood,” the deputy mayor said, adding that there had been no protests in the area on Tuesday night. Local Palestinian news agency Maan quoted security sources saying Salim was killed in an ambush the Israeli army had set up for him at the village’s junction. Salim was responsible for water engineering in the village municipality, and became the seventh Palestinian to be killed since protests began in Beita against the illegal settlement set up on the village’s lands last March.”


Fadi Quran tweets: “A martyr for water. Shadi is a municipal worker whose job is to re-open water pipes when his town runs out of water. Last night he was murdered while doing his job. Israeli forces systematically limit water to Palestinians, cutting off supply& diverting it to settlements. According to his family & colleagues, last night Shadi went out to open the water supply pipes shut down by the settlers and Israeli military. Israeli soldiers caught him & murdered him point blank. He had been asked to open water pipes because the village ran out of water. “

Boy Seriously Wounded by Israeli Army Fire, Hours After Palestinian Man Killed,

“A boy was left seriously wounded on Wednesday by IDF gunfire near Hebron, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, a day after Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian near the evacuated outpost of Evyatar. According to initial reports, the boy was shot in the chest by live ammunition from the Israeli military in the West Bank town of Beit Ummar, and was subsequently rushed to hospital in Hebron. “

Israel to give work permits to 16,000 more Palestinians in bid to strengthen PA,

“The Israeli government is set to increase the number of work permits for West Bank Palestinians by 16,000 amid calls by Israeli officials to strengthen the ailing Palestinian Authority economy. According to the Defense Ministry, the Israeli military body charged with handling Palestinian civilian affairs — known by its acronym COGAT — informed senior Palestinian officials on Wednesday of the intention to offer additional permits. The plan was first announced by Regional Affairs Minister Issawi Frej, who said he had developed the initiative along with Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin. But while the proposal was originally set to be approved by the government this past Sunday, it was subsequently delayed due to “technical issues” with the Defense Ministry, Frej’s office said.”

Bennett government votes down Judea and Samaria sovereignty bill,

“The Knesset voted Wednesday afternoon to reject a bill which would apply Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria. The bill was introduced by Likud MK Mikki Zohar, along with cosponsor MK Shlomo Karhi (Likud). In the preliminary vote in the Knesset plenum, the bill was rejected, with 50 MKs voting in favor and 64 against. The Bennett government voted against the bill, ensuring its failure in the plenum. Zohar excoriated the government for voting down the bill, calling the coalition an “evil, left-wing” government, and lambasted it as “opportunistic”.”


Also See

Two settler buildings in Eli to be razed, state tells court under Bennett,

“Two settler buildings will be razed located on land that could be private Palestinian property situated within the West Bank settlement of Eli, the attorney-general’s office told the High Court of Justice on Wednesday. The eviction of the four families living in the two-unit structures would take place at the end of a three-year mark, the state explained. This is the first statement of its kind to the court since the HCJ in 2020 nullified the settlement regulation law, which would have retroactively legalized some 4,000 illegally built settler homes on private Palestinian property.”

Fearing fresh unrest, Bennett gov’t weighing delay for verdict on Sheikh Jarrah,

“The Israeli government may seek to postpone a verdict in the controversial Sheikh Jarrah eviction cases, a coalition source close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told The Times of Israel on Tuesday. Four Palestinian families are set to be evicted by Israeli authorities in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, pending a final Supreme Court hearing next Monday. While no final decision has been made by the Prime Minister’s Office, the coalition source said Bennett’s government is seriously considering a delay of that court session. The source did not specify how the government would go about ensuring such a delay, but said that it could well freeze the proceedings for another six months.”

[Podcast] The System & Soldiers Behind Settler Violence,

In this episode of “Occupied Thoughts,” FMEP’s Kristin McCarthy talks to Avner Gvaryahu (Breaking the Silence) about a new collection of testimonies from former Israeli soldiers highlighting the IDF’s complicity in settler violence – and the larger system within which Israeli soldiers and settlers operate. You can read the new collection -published by Breaking the Silence  entitled “On Duty: Settler Violence in the West Bank”

Israeli Army Let Settlers Stay at Abandoned Base Despite Knowing Plans for Illegal Outpost,

“Military sources expressed criticism of the commander of the Jordan Valley brigade, Col. Bezalel Schneid, for permitting dozens of settlers to spend a weekend at the abandoned army position. They asserted that the decision could create another volatile point of friction in the region. The army said in response that the settlers had been permitted to hike in the area and sleep there but not to establish an outpost there. Several weeks ago, the settlers issued a statement clearly stating their intention to establish an outpost there. “We’re happy to reveal a new settlement cell in the Jordan Valley,” the statement read. “The members of the cell are organizing a ‘watch’ once a week at a new spot,” at the site, which in Arabic is known as Hamam al-Malih. The Nahala organization issued a statement calling on members of the public to come and stay overnight at the site. “Let us go up and take possession of it,” the group announced.”


Countdown to the airstrike: the moment Israeli forces hit al-Jalaa tower, Gaza,

“First comes the warning call – then the race to evacuate. Residents of a Gaza apartment block recall the frantic minutes before their homes to were turned to rubble. Warning: this interactive contains audio, photos and videos that some may find distressing.”


ICYMI – “Gaza: Apparent War Crimes During May Fighting” (Human Rights Watch, July 2021)

Israel appears to have committed war crimes in May conflict with Hamas, Human Rights Watch says,

“New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report Tuesday that highlighted three Israeli strikes on Gaza in which it said 62 civilians, including families, were killed and “where there were no evident military targets in the vicinity.” It said other strikes also are likely to have violated international law. Human Rights Watch said that Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas, which has controlled the coastal territory since 2007, also “committed unlawful attacks” in firing over 4,300 unguided rockets and mortars into Israeli communities. The organization said it would release a separate report on Palestinian violations in August.”

I had ten minutes to evacuate my life,

““It was the toughest night,” I tell my friends, but as I experience another, I know I was wrong.  I could not sleep for four days now. Nights during escalations come hand in hand with more death, fear, and fire. At 9:00 pm, we ware lucky enough to receive a warning notice to evacuate our home because they want to demolish a building nearby. We have ten minutes to take our essentials, and leave our home with all our memories behind. There is no shelter.”

Palestinian Leadership & Politics

PLO official to Post: Palestinians dissatisfied with Bennett gov’t,

“The Palestinians are not satisfied with the new government headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett because it hasn’t made any serious changes in the Israeli policy towards settlements, PLO official Ashraf al-Ajrami said on Wednesday. The Palestinians also do not expect the Israeli government to resume the stalled peace process with Israel any time in the near future, Ajrami, who previously served as the Palestinian Authority Minister for Prisoners Affairs, told The Jerusalem Post.”

PA admits fault for activist’s death — then continues assaults on critics,

“Dweikat admitted that the PA is responsible for Banat’s death, given that an official investigation showed that he died in their custody. “Those who were responsible for the killing of Banat were military officers, therefore Prime Minister [Mohammad] Shtayyeh referred them to the military court and they will be publicly prosecuted,” he said. Dweikat added that Palestinians have the right to protest, but “protesters heavily insulted the security forces and demanded that the president leave.” He continued, “The protesters were mad over the killing of Banat, which we did not accept as well, and followed the law in regard to the incident. Now, what is the reason behind the calls for President Abbas to leave, and for the dissolution of the PA?”  When asked about the suppression of protests and the violence documented at the Ballou’ police station, Dweikat urged those who were attacked to file a complaint with the military court. “We will never be able to fix these behaviors, unless citizens speak up and do something about them,” he said.”

Palestinians fire official who criticized activist’s death,

“President Mahmoud Abbas has fired the director of the Palestinian national library after he criticized the government over the death of an activist in the custody of Palestinian security forces. In a letter obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday, Ehab Bessaiso was removed from the post, as well as from the library’s board of directors. The letter, dated June 27 and signed by Abbas, did not give a reason for the dismissal. But it came three days after Bessaiso wrote a long Facebook post that criticized the death of Nizar Banat, an outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority.”

The limits of Palestinian nationalism in the fight against Apartheid,

“We have reached a time where we can argue that Israel has intellectually and morally lost the battle. We, Palestinians, like Black South Africans before us, have proven to be the ones at the forefront of the fight for universal justice. However, by the end of the second decade and the beginning of the third one of the millennium, a spirit of dictatorship and tyranny has pervaded the soul of Palestinian nationalism as defined and controlled by the Right. “

Ben & Jerry's, Continued

Scoop: Israel launches maximum pressure campaign against Ben & Jerry's,

“The Israeli government has formed a special task force to pressure Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and its parent company Unilever to reverse their decision to boycott Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli officials tell me…Behind the scenes: On July 22, the Israeli Foreign Ministry sent a classified cable to all Israeli diplomatic missions in North America and Europe ordering them to start a pressure campaign against Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever in order to convince them to negotiate…Israeli diplomats were instructed to encourage Jewish organizations, pro-Israel advocacy groups and evangelical communities to organize demonstrations in front of Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever offices and put pressure on investors and distributors for both companies…The Foreign Ministry also asked the diplomats to push for public statements condemning the companies and to “encourage public protests in the media and directly with key executives in both companies.” The diplomats were also instructed to echo those protests on social media for maximum visibility…The Israeli Embassy in Washington and the Israeli Consulates around the U.S. were asked to push for the activation of anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) legislation in several states and to engage with governors, mayors, members of Congress and state officials like attorneys general.”

Ben & Jerry’s board chair says ‘I am not anti-Semitic’ as Unilever disavows BDS movement,

“On Tuesday, Anuradha Mittal, the chair of Ben & Jerry’s board of directors, tweeted her first comments on the boycott since it was announced last week. She stood by the decision and denied being antisemitic following Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s statement that the boycott is a “shameful surrender to antisemitism.” “I am proud of @benandjerrys for taking a stance to end sale of its ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” she tweeted, using the same term for the West Bank that the announcement used. “This action is not anti-Semitic. I am not anti-Semitic. The vile hate that has been thrown at me does [not] intimidate me. Pls work for peace – not hatred!” (Mittal did not detail the “vile hate” she has received, though critics of the decision have attacked her on social media.) Mittal’s post came days after a report by NBC News that her board was unhappy with the text of the statement put out by Unilever announcing the boycott. Ben & Jerry’s would “stay in Israel through a different arrangement,” it said. That clause did not appear in the announcement drafted by the board.”

90 members of Knesset urge Unilever to reverse ‘shameful’ Ben & Jerry’s decision,

“Ninety members of the Knesset from across the political spectrum, led by Yesh Atid MK Merav Ben-Ari, sent a letter on Wednesday to the CEO of Unilever protesting the recent decision by its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s to cease selling its products in West Bank settlements. “This decision to boycott towns and cities in Israel as well as the company’s attempt to force this boycott practice immediately on the Israeli manufacturer is an immoral and regrettable decision that harms all residents of Judea and Samaria, as well as hundreds of Israeli workers, Jews and Arabs alike,” stated the letter addressed to Unilever CEO Alan Jope, referring to the West Bank by its biblical names.”

Opinion | The State That Cried Antisemitism,

“Israel is currently the world’s largest antisemitism accelerator. That’s mainly due to its own evil, its actions and its policies, but also due to its having the chutzpah to declare itself the state of the “Jewish people” as a whole…Here’s a partial and short reminder: the millions under occupation who are deprived of basic rights; the apartheid regime in its colonies; the shameful ghetto in the Gaza State; Israel’s collection of laws that discriminate and disinherit, based on religion and ethnicity; the sale of tools of destruction to the highest bidder and despicable surveillance technology to any despot; the routine airstrikes on innocent people; the sanction of violence to and land theft from the people living under its occupation; the nurturing of pogromists and religious crazies; a ludicrous democracy, an eroded judiciary, a state whose best friends are the lowest of the low among the world’s leaders: Victor Orban in Hungary, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, a motley crew of Persian Gulf sheikhs, Narendra Modi in India, Vladimir Putin in Russia and, until just recently, Donald Trump in the United States. That is the place Israel chose for itself. That is where it is. So why should a decent human like Israel, respect it, admire it? Simply on account of the Holocaust?”

The U.S. Scene

Hill Republicans make push for UNRWA reforms with new bill,

“Congressional Republicans are pushing to reform or cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) — the U.N. agency tasked with providing aid to Palestinians — after the Biden administration restored funding cut by former President Donald Trump to the often-criticized body. The UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act, which has 12 sponsors in the Senate and 28 in the House and was introduced Tuesday, would freeze aid to UNRWA entirely unless the secretary of state certifies to Congress every 180 days that the organization meets a series of criteria. They includeconfirmation that no UNRWA employees are members of or affiliated with terror organizations; that no UNRWA resources are being used by terror groups; and that the U.N. agency’s schools do not provide educational materials containing anti-American, anti-Israel or antisemitic content.”


Joel Braunold tweets: “The new GOP UNRWA bill is something to behold – codifies IHRA, redefines refugee – uses Trade Act BDS standard (includes settlement boycott), prevents unrwa and any affiliate or contractor from advocating for right of return, caps contributions to that of Arab League”

Swastika found etched into State Department elevator,

“A swastika was found on Monday etched into the wall of a State Department elevator near the office of its special envoy to monitor and combat anti-semitism, according to a person familiar with the discovery and a picture obtained by Axios…Secretary of State Tony Blinken sent an email Tuesday to the entire department that condemned the vandalism. “The hateful graffiti has been removed and this incident will be investigated.””

Israeli Domestic Politics

Knesset puts prime minister rotation between Lapid, Bennett into law,

“The Knesset (Israel Parliament) on Tuesday passed an amendment to the Basic Law guaranteeing the premiership rotation agreement between Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett that will see the position of prime minister change hands on August 27, 2023.”

PM vows to present national plan to tackle ‘calamity’ of Arab community violence,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday said that violence and crime in Arab Israeli communities was a “national calamity,” as he met with senior government and police officials to formulate a national plan to tackle the issue. The plan will be released soon, a statement from Bennett’s office said. Bennett announced his intention to formulate a national plan last month. The Islamist Ra’am Party, which joined Bennett’s government coalition, ran on a platform of tackling violence in Israel’s Arab communities and the party has said it secured the promise of large-scale funding for the issue as part of the coalition agreement.”

Bennett, Gantz, Liberman agree on defense budget: NIS 58 billion for 2022,

“The government has yet to elaborate on how the proposed NIS 58 billion ($17.8 billion) budget would be spent, but said that it includes NIS 750 million ($230.5 million) for improving civilian defenses, for the Defense Ministry’s veteran care reforms, and for funding the “From Uniforms to University” program, which covers most of the tuition for recently released soldiers…Earlier this month, Kan reported that the military had requested a NIS 9 billion ($2.77 billion) budget increase in order to prepare for a potential military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert revealed in 2013 that the government had invested some NIS 11 billion ($3.38 billion) in preparing for such an attack in 2011-2012, according to Even and Hadad.”

Regional News

Israel suspends fuel-transport deal with UAE,

“The reason for this crisis is that the new Israeli government has been signaling plans to reevaluate a deal to transport oil from the Persian Gulf to Europe through Israel. The agreement was formalized in March by the Europe Asia Pipeline Company (EAPC), an Israeli government owned national conveyor of crude oil, and the Emirates. Before proceeding with the agreement, Israel wants to conduct an in-depth investigation of the impact the project would have on pollution in the Gulf of Eilat. Under the original agreement, the Emiratis would be allowed to transport oil to Europe via the pipeline from Eilat to Ashkelon. But on Sunday, the new environment minister, Tamar Zandberg, ordered the agreement be put on hold until all of its environmental implications can be investigated.”

Surveillance, Big Tech, Media, Arms Deals

Israeli defence minister to share findings on NSO with France,

“Israel’s defence minister will share on Wednesday the initial findings from a government assessment of NSO Group exports with France, whose president was allegedly among targets of spyware sold by the private Israeli spyware company. President Emmanuel Macron’s phone was on a list of targets that were possibly under surveillance by Morocco, which used NSO’s Pegasus software, according to France’s Le Monde newspaper. The French leader has called for an investigation.”

Opinion | I Worked at Israeli Phone Hacking Firm Cellebrite. They Lied to Us,

“As a former Cellebrite employee, I can say from personal experience that the company does nothing to prevent the abuse of its products by customers. It knowingly sells products and services to users of dubious repute, belonging to autocratic regimes. When other staff and I sought answers from management about this, we encountered delays, obfuscations, and in the end, outright lies. We know they are lies because of inquiries conducted by human rights groups, which led Cellebrite to stop sales to Belarus and China.”

How Palestinian resistance is challenging the tech supremacy of war,

“This leads to a paradox, wherein the unguided missiles of the Palestinian resistance are guilty of targeting civilians, while the precise and targeted missiles of the Israeli occupation forces are innocent of the deaths of victims whom they “mistakenly” target. This paradox is maintained by racialised hierarchies of conflict that operate beyond the Palestinian context.”

NSO Spyware Scandal May Threaten Israel’s Love Affair With Amazon and Google,

“Amazon reportedly cut NSO off from its AWS service – the same one that is supposed to support Israel’s new official state cloud. Could Jerusalem be cut off, too?… The NSO case demonstrates that decisions by the defense establishment on exporting security technology have to take into account human rights considerations. This is both because it’s the right thing to do, but also because as the NSO case taught us, unfortunately, there can be others who will enforce those values on us if no internal incentives existed for this to be the case. Paradoxically, the transition to the cloud via the Nimbus Project could provide such an incentive. Otherwise, the State of Israel or sections of its accounts could find themselves booted off the cloud and left suspended in mid-air.”

Joint Open Letter By Civil Society Organizations and Independent Experts Calling on States to Implement an Immediate Moratorium on the Sale, Transfer and Use of Surveillance Technology,

“In this joint open letter, 146 civil society organizations and 28 independent experts worldwide call on states to implement an immediate moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of surveillance technology. Alarmed by the Pegasus Project revelations that NSO Group’s spyware has been used to facilitate human rights violations around the world on a massive scale, the undersigned highlight the key human rights implications of this major exposé and issue a series of recommendations to states, as well as states that export surveillance technology.”