Top News from Israel & Palestine: June 1, 2020

What We’re Reading

Turning Up the Heat in Jerusalem

Israeli Police Officers Shoot and Kill Disabled Palestinian in Jerusalem,

“Israeli police officers shot to death an unarmed, disabled Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday. Eyad Hallaq, 32, resided in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz. He attended and worked in a special needs school in the Old City, just meters away from where he was shot. According to a statement by the Border Police, two officers noticed the Palestinian carrying a suspicious object that they thought was a gun and ordered him to stop. After the man refused and started fleeing the scene, the officers started chasing him on foot and opened fire, ultimately killing him…According to an initial investigation, two officers began chasing Hallaq after they were told by other police that he was a terrorist. The more senior officer of the two shot in the air while the junior officer shot at Hallaq, who was trying to hide behind a dumpster. The shooting officer said he suspected Hallaq was a terrorist because he was wearing gloves. According to a source familiar with the investigation, the junior officer – who was a new recruit and was armed with an M16 – is being suspected of having continued shooting after being told by his commander to stop, and did so because he saw that Hallaq was still moving…Shortly thereafter, Hallaq’s father said, police officers and Shin Bet agents arrived at his home and started searching it without saying anything. He said that one of the officers cursed a relative of the family.”


Further reading:

6/1, Haaretz: Autistic Palestinian Shot Dead by Israeli Police Laid to Rest: ‘He Didn’t Even Know What a Soldier Is’

6/1, ToI: Caregiver says she told cops East Jerusalem man was disabled before he was shot

6/1, ToI: Hundreds call for revenge at funeral of East Jerusalem man killed by police

6/1: Mideast Monitor: Israel policeman who killed disabled Palestinian released

5/31, Mideast Eye: Palestinian Americans draw stark comparisons of US & Israeli uses of force

5/31, ToI: Gantz expresses sorrow over police killing of East Jerusalem man with autism

5/31, Jewish News Syndicate: Israel Police probes ‘rare’ shooting of unarmed Palestinian

5/31, ABC News: Israeli forces kill unarmed autistic Palestinian man

5/30, +972 magazine: ‘Justice for Iyad, justice for George’: Hundreds protest police killing of Palestinian in Jerusalem

5/30, Al Jazeera: Israel police kill unarmed Palestinian in occupied East Jerusalem

5/30, Washington Post: Israeli police fatally shoot Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City, further stoking tensions

Israel occupation arrests Al-Aqsa Mosque cleric,

“The Israeli forces arrested Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, president of the Supreme Islamic Council and cleric of Al-Aqsa Mosque, after storming his house in occupied Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Information Centre (PIC). The occupation forces have stormed Sheikh Sabri’s house several times and removed him from Al-Aqsa under the pretext of inciting citizens to pray in the mosque. Sheikh Sabri has rejected any Israeli measures to restrict prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque and called on: ‘Our fellow Palestinians to prepare themselves to defend Al-Aqsa from any threats in the coming days.’”

Temple Mt. reopens to thousands of Muslims, hundreds of Jews; 8 Muslims arrested,

“The Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem opened Sunday to the Muslim public and to Jews for the first time in over two months, with only minor incidents reported amid mounting tensions a day after an unarmed East Jerusalem man with autism was shot dead by officers. The shooting is being investigated; police said the officers mistakenly believed the man was armed. Police said eight Muslims were arrested for ‘chanting nationalistic slogans’ and attempting to disrupt the entry of Jews into the flashpoint compound, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, was the site of two ancient Jewish temples, and is holy to both religions. Along with thousands of Muslims, hundreds of Jews also arrived during the four morning hours in which non-Muslims are allowed into the site. Religious Jews are only allowed in under heavy police protection and supervision, with many strict restrictions, and are taken through a short, predetermined route.”

Israel to demolish 200 Palestinian buildings in East Jerusalem,

“Israeli occupation authorities yesterday delivered an order to demolish 200 decades-old Palestinian-owned industrial structures located in occupied East Jerusalem, reported Wafa news agency. As with many neighbourhoods in the area surrounding Jerusalem, Wadi Al-Joz is experiencing severe challenges with the aggressive expansion of the Jewish presence in the area. The chairman of East Jerusalem’s Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kamal Obeidat, told Wafa that the order was made by recommendation of the Israeli Planning and Zoning Committee and will demolish up to 200 structures including car repair shops, restaurants and other facilities. Obeidat called the move a ‘racist order’ to destroy the only Palestinian industrial area that serves the city’s 300,000 residents in East Jerusalem in order to build Israeli structures. A spokesperson for the Jerusalem Municipality confirmed to the Jerusalem Post that the buildings were being demolished as part of a ‘building project’ but could not provide further details.”

Israel - Annexation on the Agenda

Netanyahu reportedly keeping details of sovereignty plan secret - even from Benny Gantz,

“With exactly one month until Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presents his plan for applying Israeli sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, details of the plan – including the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the area – are being kept a secret from all but a handful of officials directly involved in the process…Only the Prime Minister and two senior Likud officials working with the mapping committee have access to the sovereignty maps, according to a report by Walla Monday. Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud) and Ronen Peretz, director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, who are part of the joint Israeli-American mapping team, remain the only Israeli officials, other than Netanyahu himself, with access to the sovereignty plan.”

Efrat Mayor: My Fellow Settlers Are Wrong to Oppose Trump’s Annexation Plan,

“…Israeli society is ripe to broadly adopt what we have built. A unity government, in which members of Likud, Labor, and Kachol Lavan seek to apply Israeli law in Efrat, Beit El, Shiloh, Elon More and more. An absolute majority in the Knesset is ready to vote in favor of applying Israeli law. A recent survey showed that 73.5 percent of Israelis favor Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan to apply Israeli sovereignty. Can we turn our backs on the unity of the people? To this consensus that has, at last, emerged? Have we forgotten the great rift that erupted when Gush Katif [the Gaza settlement bloc] was uprooted? The fear of a civil war? We have a responsibility to preserve the unity of the people. Who gave us permission to abandon the slogan, ‘We must settle in Israelis’ hearts’? This is a watershed moment for the nation and the settlement movement.”

Despite criticism from abroad, Israelis united over annexation,

“The plan of the national unity government to extend Israeli control to the Jordan Valley has elicited much more criticism from abroad than in Israel. The acerbic ideological debate over the future of the territories acquired in 1967 is over. The Sinai Peninsula was relinquished in 1979-82. The security significance of the Golan Heights always been an issue of consensus among Israelis, with over 70% supporting Israel maintaining control of the area. The civil war in Syria only solidified such popular positions, while US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in 2019 put this issue to rest. Gaza is similarly no longer a bone of contention after the 2005 unilateral withdrawal. Concerning Judea and Samaria, there is a majority in favor of partition and retaining the settlement blocs, Jerusalem (the Temple Mount in particular) and the Jordan Valley. A recent poll commissioned by the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security confirmed that over 60% of Israelis (and over 70% among the wider Jewish public) favor extending Israeli law to these areas. The current composition of the Knesset favors incorporation of the Jordan Valley into Israel…”

Israel, Saudi Arabia in secret talks to curb Turkish presence on Temple Mount,

“Israel and Saudi Arabia have been reportedly engaged in secret talks since last December, through American mediation, over including Saudi representatives in the Islamic Waqf Council at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This development has been taking place against the backdrop of US President Donald Trump’s deal of the century, and the plan to apply Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the large settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria. Senior Saudi diplomats familiar with the details confirmed to Israel Hayom that ‘these talks are sensitive and clandestine and have been conducted by small teams of diplomats and security officials from Israel, the US, and Saudi Arabia as part of the Trump administrations’ Peace to Prosperity Middle East initiative.’ According to one senior Saudi diplomat, up until a few months ago the Jordanians – who hold special and exclusive status in managing the Waqf – adamantly objected to any change in the Waqf Council. Amman however has since changed its position amid intense Turkish interference in east Jerusalem and particularly the Temple Mount.”

Report: Mossad chief met with Egyptian officials over sovereignty bid,

“Mossad intelligence agency Director Yossi Cohen secretly met with high-ranking Egyptian security officials last week in Cairo, London-based Arabic daily Al-Araby reported on Saturday. Cohen is said to have met with Egyptian Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry during his secret trip to Cairo. According to the report, the meeting sought was to discuss Hamas and the Gaza Strip, the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan, and the Israeli government’s controversial plan to apply sovereignty to large parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to bring to parliamentary approval in early July.”

Bennett backs away from open opposition to Trump plan,

“Yamina Party head Naftali Bennett backed away on Monday from open opposition to US President Donald Trump’s peace plan until all its details are finalized.’Once the map and the plan are finalized we will make our decision,’ Bennett said…”

West Bank annexation could be delayed for days or weeks, Likud minister says,

“…Ze’ev Elkin, a member of the top-level security cabinet, told Army Radio that the July 1 date cited in the coalition deal signed with Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party wasn’t set in stone. Elkin said Sunday that there was no guarantee that the work of the committee, which has since been formed, would be completed by July 1. ‘I know they’re working on the map, and that process could take some more time,’ he said. ‘July 1 is the first day when the matter can be brought to the cabinet and the Knesset. It could possibly take a few more days or weeks, but generally I think the prime minister is very clear that he intends to advance this.’ Elkin said there were many signs that the mapping would be done by ‘sometime in July.’”

Palestians, International Community vs. Annexation

Fatah: Palestinians will face Israel’s annexation plan with an Intifada,

“Senior Fatah member and former Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabeel Shaath said yesterday that Palestinians would face Israel’s plans to annex large swathes of the occupied West Bank with an Intifada, Al-Mujtama magazine reported. In an interview, Shaath said that all the Palestinian forces agree to face the annexation using all the available resistance means, including political and diplomatic options. Regarding the Palestinian action on the international arena, Shaath said that there are continuous moves at all levels and the Palestinians depend on their Arab ‘brothers’ to bring their united position to the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Commission.”

The Real Reason for ‘Mainstream’ Jewish America’s Appalling Silence on Annexation,

“Israel’s leaders are sacrificing democracy and human rights on the altar of ethno-nationalism. And all those U.S. Jewish groups claiming to back a two state solution have suddenly lost their voice?”

China rejects Israel’s planned annexation of West Bank,

“The People’s Republic of China has rejected Israel’s planned annexation of large swathes of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, Al Watan Voice reported yesterday. In a statement, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said that the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called his Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al-Maliki to express his country’s rejection of the ‘illegal’ Israeli plans. Yi stressed that his country rejects the Israeli plans and calls for creating a sovereign Palestinian state along the 1967 borders on the basis of the two-state solution. The Chinese official said that his country has been exerting efforts in order to encourage Israel to refrain from carrying out its plan ‘which could ignite a third intifada’ and start an ‘open-ended escalation’.”

UAE Foreign Minister warns Israel against annexation of occupied West Bank,

“‘Continued Israeli talk of annexing Palestinian lands must stop,’ Dr Gargash said on Twitter. ‘Any unilateral Israeli move will be a serious setback for the peace process, undermine Palestinian self determination & constitute a rejection of the international & Arab consensus towards stability & peace.’”

French envoy: We’re not making threats, but annexation will have consequences,

“France does not mean to threaten Israel, but a move to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank would be considered a ‘serious’ violation of international law and would inevitably have negative consequences for bilateral relations, Paris’s ambassador in Tel Aviv said in an interview. ‘There are violations of international law of different degrees of severity, and an annexation of the Jordan Valley and the settlements would be considered a serious one,’ Eric Danon told The Times of Israel. ‘This qualification implies that there would be consequences, as it would not be considered ‘serious’ otherwise.’”

UN warns of new Israel-Palestine conflict if annexation plans go ahead,

“The United Nations has warned of a new political crisis and conflict between Israel and the Palestinians if Israel continues with its plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. The UN gave the warning in a newly published paper yesterday, in which it said that while cooperation between Israel and Palestine to battle the coronavirus pandemic is commendable and welcome, a new and revived conflict will be underway if current trends between the two continue. It stressed that if Israel proceeds with its annexation plans and the Palestinian Authority (PA) withdraws from bilateral agreements, the work that has been achieved over the past 25 years will be undermined, security will collapse and both sides will witness further extremist politics.”

West Bank/Gaza

More Than 90 Percent of West Bank Eviction Orders Go to Palestinians, Report Shows,

“Analysis of Israeli-issued evacuation orders, obtained after a High Court injunction, also shows Israel claimed more land in the Jordan Valley than anywhere else, as annexation looms.”

Israeli Soldiers Filmed Slashing Tires, Throwing Tear Gas at Palestinian Home (w/ video),

“Two new videos released by the non-profit organization B’tselem on Sunday allegedly show Israeli soldiers slashing tires and throwing tear gas canisters toward a house in the Palestinian village of Kafr Qaddum in the West Bank on Saturday…Murad Shetewi, the central organizer of the protests and the man whose home was targeted by the tear gas, told Haaretz that the canisters were thrown while his wife and five children were at home. Shetewi said that the family required first aid afterwards, as the gas penetrated the house. The canisters landed on the porch of his home, Shetewi said, although the protest was not taking place nearby…”

World Bank: Palestinian economy could contract by 11% due to COVID-19,

“The Palestinian economy could contract by as much as 11% this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, after already struggling to survive due to a financial spat with Israel and falling donor funds, the World Bank reported on Monday…Last year, 14% of Palestinians in the West Bank and 54% in the Gaza Strip lived below the poverty line, the report stated. Those numbers could rise to 30% in the West Bank and 64% in Gaza, the World Bank said.”

Israeli Army Reports Attempted West Bank Car-ramming Attack, Palestinian Driver Shot,

“A Palestinian attempted to run over soldiers in the West Bank settlement of Halamish Friday afternoon, an Israeli military statement said. IDF soldiers were sitting on a bench by the road when a Palestinian driver accelerated in their direction. The soldiers managed to get out of the way before the driver hit the bench. They shot the driver, killing him. The Israeli military said that no soldiers were hurt in the attempt. Palestinian reports identify the driver as Fadi Adnan Ka’ad, 37, from the village of Abu Qash, north of Ramallah. Family members reject the claim that Ka’ad was attempting to carry out an attack, saying that he was on his way to pick up his wife in Salfit when his car slid and soldiers shot him.  In a briefing to senior IDF officers earlier this week, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said he was issuing an alert to army commanders regarding a possible escalation in the West Bank and Gaza ahead of July, on the heels of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex some settlements in the West Bank.”

Palestinian leader cuts ties with Israel over annexation plans. His own people feel the pinch.,

“..Earlier this month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared an end to long-standing coordination between his governing Palestinian Authority and Israeli officials in response to the Israeli government’s plans to start the process of annexing large parts of the occupied West Bank as soon as July 1. As Palestinians returned to work this week after a long holiday break, they were already beginning to feel the effects of the freeze.Some permits could still be obtained if applicants directly visited the Israeli civil administration office in the West Bank, people were told. Others, including for emergency transport by ambulance, would be impossible without the involvement of Palestinian officials…”

What is Next for Palestinian Popular Resistance in Gaza? Speaking to Journalist Wafaa Aludaini,

“Regarding the Great March of Return, Aludaini said that the March was ‘a popular protest where the people of Gaza collectively gathered at the separation fence between Gaza and Israel,’ to exhibit various forms of resistance that focused mostly on cultural resistance… Aludaini said that the March is not over, however, the strategy will be reformulated to minimize the number of casualties. ‘After almost three years of the protests, the High Committee of the Great March of Return decided to change the approach of the protests. From now on, the marches are only going to be held on national occasions instead of being held on a weekly basis because Israel uses lethal force against peaceful and unarmed protesters.’”

Is Hamas becoming second power in ruling Palestinians?,

“Hamas is destroying houses in the Gaza Strip, as it considers them illegally built on government territories, while its understandings with Israel are ongoing despite Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement about halting all agreements with Israel.”

In Other News...

Zionist group invokes Trump EO to challenge pro-Palestinian group’s tax exempt status,

“A New York-based pro-Israel group has latched onto President Donald Trump’s December anti-Semitism order in the first known legal maneuver invoking the recent executive edict to challenge a pro-Palestinian organization’s tax-exempt status…Lara Friedman, the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, who has written extensively about what she calls Abrams’ ‘legal activism,’ said that the New York lawyer seems to be ‘trying to establish a novel interpretation of US law.’ In effect, Friedman said, ‘Abrams appears to be telling the IRS that tax-exempt status in itself should be viewed as a form of federal financial assistance, and that therefore the EO should apply.’”

Due to COVID-19: AIPAC cancels its 2021 policy conference,

“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) announced on Sunday it would cancel its 2021 policy conference due to COVID-19. The organization’s president, Betsy Korn, sent an email to members, in a message marking the first time the event will be canceled. ‘Due to the unprecedented situation this is the first time [we are cancelling the policy conference] – since it was already clear that we did not have a predictable avenue to safely bring together thousands of pro-Israel Americans, we have been forced to cancel,’ an AIPAC official told The Jerusalem Post.”

God TV says threat of closure to Shelanu TV ‘religious discrimination’,

“God TV, the Christian Evangelical media group that has been accused of seeking to proselytize in Israel through its new cable TV station, has slammed the efforts to shut it down and insisted its license was fairly awarded as a religious broadcasting channel. The group’s Hebrew language channel Shelanu TV began broadcasting in Israel on the Hot cable network at the end of April after it received a license from the Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting. God TV, which reaches some 300 million homes around the world, is dedicated to preaching the Christian gospel and the task of the ‘Great Commission,’ a doctrine in Christian theology to gain disciples for Christianity and to preach the religion. Following exposure of the kind of content broadcast on God TV, including comments by channel CEO Ward Simpson about the importance of bringing people to embrace Christianity as well as a strong reaction by then-communications minister David Amsallem, the council threatened to suspend Shelanu TV’s license, pending a review by the council of Hot’s contract with the channel.”