Top News from Israel & Palestine: March 11, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Settlements, Annexation

Israel's arrest of Palestinian children picking vegetables sparks outrage,

“A video of armed Israeli soldiers arresting a group of five Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank has triggered widespread condemnation from activists and human rights groups, who viewed the incident as ‘extremely aggressive’. The video, filmed by a field researcher with Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, was recorded in the Masafer Yatta area of the southern Hebron hills, which is home to dozens of clusters of Palestinian villages and enclaves, as well as several illegal Israeli settlements and outposts…dozens of Israeli soldiers in combat gear can be seen grabbing the terrified children and pushing them towards the military vehicles…the children were detained and taken to the nearby Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, where they were held inside the military vehicles and interrogated for several hours, before being released to their families in the evening.”

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Israel eyes Palestinian home demolition in Area B,

“The IDF issued a demolition order for a home under construction in the West Bank village of Wadi Hummus, in an area that is technically under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority, according the Palestinian news agency WAFA.Israel has oversight with respect to Palestinian construction in Area C of the West Bank, which is under IDF military and civilian control. According to WAFA, the Palestinian homeowners had obtained a license from the PA Local Government Ministry.”

How Israeli industrial zones exploit Palestinian land and labour,

“Israel has built 19 industrial zones in the occupied West Bank, with four under construction in Jenin, Hebron, Tulkarem, and Bethlehem. These industrial zones are illegal under international law because they operate on occupied Palestinian land. The companies’ locations, though, are not the only criminal aspect of the industrial zones. For Palestinians working in these factories, meagre wages and exploitative practices are all too common.”

Palestinian Authority calls on UN to protect 'Palestinian religious sites',

“The Palestinian Foreign Ministry yesterday called on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) ‘to protect all Palestinian archaeological and religious sites from Israeli violations, attacks and falsifications.’ In an official statement, the ministry condemned what it described as the ‘occupation’s seizure of hundreds of Palestinian archaeological sites in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, to serve the expansion of the illegal settlements.’ ‘The Israeli control over Palestinian archaeological sites is usually carried out under racist laws and flimsy arguments,’ the ministry pointed out, adding that Israel was intending to ‘steal Palestinian antiquities, forge them and display them in their museums as evidence of its misleading colonial claims.’”

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W.Bank settler population up 42% since 2010: Report,

“The settler population in the occupied West Bank has risen 42% since 2010, a new Israeli report found on Tuesday. There are now 440,000 settlers in the occupied territory, added the report by Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem and Kerem Navot. ‘Various state authorities encourage Jews to move to settlements and develop financial ventures in and around them,’ the report said. ‘The state offers a slew of benefits and incentives to settlers and settlements, through both official and unofficial channels – extensively reviewed here. Housing benefits are the most significant, allowing families that lack capital or substantial sources of income to buy homes in settlements,’ it added.”

When dancing could mean life and death: How one Palestinian troupe is resisting Israeli occupation,

“El Funoun, a long-established Palestinian dance troupe based in Ramallah, are using their traditional dance and music heritage to convey a strong message of resistance to Israeli occupation. Established in 1979, El Funoun, which means ‘The Art’ in Arabic, is no ordinary dance collective. Since their inception, they have primarily been on a mission to resist the genocide of their people and culture. This has been a task filled with danger and challenges. One of their members, Ata Khattab was imprisoned by the Israeli authorities on February 2. He has been kept in a prison without charge…Dancing in Palestine could literally mean life and death. The Israeli authorities view any expression of Palestinian culture and heritage as a threat, and one that could cost you everything. Noora says, ‘In Palestine you are imprisoned for your ideas and your values.’”


Czech Republic opens diplomatic office in Jerusalem,

“In a controversial move, the Czech Republic on Thursday opened a diplomatic office in Jerusalem, affiliated to its embassy in Tel Aviv. While stopping short of shifting the Czech Embassy to Jerusalem, the move got clear approval from Israel, with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi attending the opening along with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis…Among EU states, only Hungary also has diplomatic offices in Jerusalem. With the exception of the US and Guatemala, countries worldwide have declined to shift their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” Also see: ‘Hungary is leading the change in EU stance on Jerusalem’ (Israel Hayom)

Israel arrests imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque Ekrima Sabri,

“Israeli authorities on Wednesday arrested the imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Shiekh Ekrima Sabri, at his home in occupied East Jerusalem, his family said. Sabri, 82, was the grand mufti of Palestine from 1996 to 2006, and has been arrested several times by Israeli forces. The imam was interrogated and then released hours after being taken from his home in the neighbourhood of al-Suwaneh, near the Mount of Olives.”

Revoking My East Jerusalem Residency is a "War Crime" and I Want Justice,

“I was blown away by a title that appeared recently in an Israeli newspaper.  It read, ‘Airport to stay shut, but 900 new immigrants will be permitted to fly to Israel’. In the midst of a pandemic, Jewish immigrants are welcome to Israel no matter what! Unlike these Jewish immigrants, – most of whom have probably never set foot in Israel/Palestine – I am forbidden to enter Jerusalem. I was born and raised in the capital city, but I’ll ever be offered citizenship upon arrival at the airport. Because I am Palestinian, not Jewish, and irrespective of my religion – I happen to be Christian [American evangelicals, please note!, my Israeli-issued ‘permanent’ residency status in Jerusalem was revoked by Israel because of some trumped up Israeli-created regulations intended to depopulate Jerusalem of its Palestinian inhabitants.”

Education Ministry files complaint against school for praising terrorism,

“The Education Ministry filed a police complaint against an east Jerusalem school, according to Im Tirtzu.The ministry claims the school, which is operated and funded by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, has been inciting violence and recently celebrated ‘Palestinian Shahid (martyr) Day.”

Regavim files petition against illegal, 300-foot tunnel dug by Jerusalem church,

“‘To dig in such a sensitive area without any oversight, inspection or access to the public is insane,’ said director of Regavim’s International Division Naomi Kahn. ‘They had no right to do so.’”

Biden Policy

Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilders prepare for $250m US government injection,

“With the recent US Congress passage of the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilding organizations are eager to find out what, exactly, $250 million of funding can do. The money was approved at the end of December 2020 as part of a $2.3 trillion spending package that combined government funding with coronavirus pandemic relief, and was signed into law by then-US president Donald Trump a few days before the new year.”

Former Trump Officials Warn Biden Not to Reverse Trump Policies

Is the Biden Administration Planning on Violating the Taylor Force Act, as the PA Continues Its Despicable Anti-Israel, Anti-America Pay-for-Slay Policy?,

“The Biden Administration has signaled its desire to resume aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a way to jumpstart the moribund Israeli-Palestinian ‘peace process.’ The obstacle to peace, however, is not the absence of U.S. assistance but the PA’s incentivizing of terrorism. The bipartisan Taylor Force Act blocks U.S. funding for the PA until it changes this behavior. There is no indication that it has, making any resumption of U.S. taxpayer aid a contravention of this important law and a further hindrance to peace…If the Biden Administration tries to run around the TFA, it will be guilty of money laundering for terrorists.  The Biden Administration should disable terror by focusing on fundamentally reforming Palestinian governance, not enabling the unrepentantly terror-sponsoring PA by circumventing the plain meaning of a bipartisan bill passed just three years ago.”

Trump Administration's West Bank and Gaza Labeling Helped Affirm Reality,

“Two weeks ago, six far-left groups sent an inaccurate and deceitful letter to the Biden administration that urged the reversal of the Trump administration’s labeling requirements for goods exported from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza Strip into the United States. Their effort is not surprising, given their long record of vilifying and delegitimizing Israel and their support for the discriminatory Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. But there is absolutely no legitimate basis to reverse the Trump administration’s decision, which is consistent with long-standing U.S. policy and practice, as well as prior agreements and the reality on the ground.”

Jared Kushner plans book on Trump White House, Abraham Accords-source,

“Jared Kushner, who was a senior adviser to then-President Donald Trump, plans to write a book about his White House experiences, including his role in negotiating normalization deals between Israel and Arab states, a source familiar with his plans said on Wednesday, Reuters reports. The book will focus heavily on the Middle East and the Israeli deals he helped to negotiate with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, known collectively as the Abraham Accords, the source said.”


Where Do Palestinians Go to Redress Israeli Abuses? U.S. Rejects International Criminal Court Solution,

“To let the ICC do its job is one way of testing the sincerity of the Biden administration’s commitment to a sovereign Palestine. If it follows Israel’s lead, though, then the result will only be some vague Palestinian entity that lacks independence and which remains in submission to the Israeli state. So, ‘step back and let the court do its job.’”

ICC notified Palestinian Authority of Israel probe in advance - PA FM,

“The International Criminal Court’s announcement that it would be launching an investigation into Israel came with little warning. But according to Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, the Palestinians were warned well in advance. During an interview on official PA TV on March 6, which was translated by the watchdog Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Maliki revealed that the PA has been in ‘constant contact’ with ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. This began ‘from the first moment when we set foot in the ICC in 2014,’ he clarified. Maliki further stated that Bensouda had given them advance notice of the investigation ‘a number of hours’ before her announcement, but had asked that it be kept a secret until then.”


Israel, UAE to establish 'quarantine-free travel corridor' amid COVID restrictions,

“The UAE announced on Wednesday that it is in ‘formal discussions to establish a quarantine-free travel corridor’ with Israel. The UAE would recognize Israeli vaccination certificates for COVID-19, and vice versa. The countries’ foreign ministries hope to implement the agreement in April, the UAE Foreign Ministry stated. Israel and the UAE are the countries with the world’s fastest COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.”

Palestinians overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients as Israel loosens restrictions,

“Palestinian hospitals and intensive-care units are overwhelmed by rising numbers of coronavirus patients in some areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced yesterday. ‘The percentage of hospital occupancy in some areas is more than 100 per cent of their official capacity,’ said Shtayyeh. ‘The number of casualties is increasing and the number of deaths is increasing on a daily basis, forcing us to take strict, direct, and unprecedented measures.’ While Palestinian cities have introduced full lockdowns over the past two weeks to control rising Covid-19 infections, Israel has started opening restaurants, bars, and cafes as it eases its lockdown restrictions. Israel has given 53 per cent of its 9 million population at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, according to Health Ministry data, and 38 per cent have received both doses.”

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Israel & the Region

Netanyahu visit to UAE cancelled due to diplomatic spat with Jordan,

“Israel and Jordan were working to calm the waters on Thursday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled historic first visit to the United Arab Emirates was cancelled following a diplomatic incident between Israel and Jordan. Netanyahu’s scheduled visit to the United Arab Emirates was held up on Thursday morning when Jordan announced it would not allow Netanyahu’s aircraft to cross its airspace en route to the United Arab Emirates,. Officials think that the Jordanian decision, which was announced only shortly before the flight was scheduled to take off, was a response to Israel’s decision to cancel a visit to the Temple Mount that had been scheduled for Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah on Wednesday over disagreements about security protocols.”

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Egypt is doing everything possible to make Sinai safe for Israeli tourists, says minister,

“Israel’s Minister of Intelligence has said that Egypt is doing everything possible to make Sinai safe for Israeli tourists, local media have reported. Eli Cohen made his comments during meetings with Egyptian Deputy Intelligence Minister Nasser Fahmi in the Sinai resort of Sharm El-Sheikh earlier this week.”

Israel Aerospace Industries to work with Emirati EDGE Group on anti-drone technologies,

“UAE’s defense company EDGE Group has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the former said in a press release on Thursday. The two entities will work on technology meant to counter hostile drones which would be tailored to the UAE market. EDGE Group’s SIGN4L, a subsidiary focusing on electronic warfare, will work with the IAI to manufacture a fully autonomous system capable of detecting hostile UAVs. Once the target has been identified, the system will offer a variety of countermeasures varying from jamming the drone’s connection with the operator to downing it with lasers or electromagnetic pulses.” Also see: Israel, UAE well positioned to lead the way in countering drone threats (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian Scene

Sinwar re-elected as Hamas chief in Gaza,

“Yehya Al-Sinwar has been re-elected to head Hamas in the Gaza Strip for a second term, officials said on Wednesday, reflecting his control over both political and military wings of the Islamist group that rules the Palestinian enclave. Sinwar, Hamas leader in Gaza since 2017, was freed in a 2011 prisoner swap with Israel after spending more than 20 years behind bars on charges that included killing suspected informants against Palestinian militants. While he supports Hamas’ opposition to co-existence with Israel, Sinwar has maintained a relatively stable standoff across the Gaza border. He has also sought improved ties with Egypt, which maintains restrictions along its frontier with Gaza, a small Mediterranean coastal territory.”

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Booby-trapped Israel drones responsible for death of 3 Gaza fishermen, probe finds,

“Booby-trapped Israeli drones exploded and led to the death of three Palestinian fishermen in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, findings of an investigation by the enclave’s Ministry of Interior revealed today. In a press conference to outline the outcomes of the report into the deaths, ministry spokesman Iyad Al-Bazm said the men were killed by occupation forces off the coast of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. Al-Bazm explained that occupation forces had used ‘drones carrying high-explosive devices’ in an operation against resistance naval forces on 22 February, adding: ‘On the morning of March 7, two drones were suspended in the nets of two fishing boats in the sea off Khan Yunis.’ The fishermen handed the first drone – Matrix 600 quadcopter – to Maritime Police, they later found a second had stuck to their nets. The investigation found that this had exploded and led to their deaths.”

Fatah Central Committee dismisses longstanding member al-Qudwa,

“The Fatah Central Committee today dismissed longstanding member Nasser al-Qudwa. The Fatah Central Committee (FCC) announced in a press statement the decision to oust al-Qudwa, a veteran diplomat, was made prior in its session held on Monday, March 8, which allowed al-Qudwa 48 hours to backtrack on his position to break away from the movement and contest the upcoming elections in a separate list. ‘Following the failure of all efforts exerted by the committee members who talked with him, and in compliance with the movement’s bylaws and decisions and in order to preserve its unity, the decision to end his membership shall be effective as of the date of its issuance,’ the statement read.” Also see: Fatah party dismisses senior official (Al Anadolu)

Exiled, jailed political heavyweights loom over upcoming Palestinian elections,

“UAE-based Mohammed Dahlan, Israel-imprisoned Marwan Barghouti seen as crucial figures in legislative and presidential vote, influencing the power balance between Fatah and Hamas.” Also see: Abbas pulls out the stops to neutralize rival Mohammed Dahlan (Israel Hayom)

Israeli Scene/Elections

Poll forecasts deadlock after election, with blocs split 60-60,

“A television poll released Wednesday suggested the March 23 elections could end in further political deadlock, with neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his rivals having a clear path to forming a government. The Channel 12 news survey also had four parties hovering around the minimum electoral threshold. The failure by any of those parties to enter the Knesset could give the pro or anti-Netanyahu bloc a slight majority.”

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Israel demolishes al-Araqib village for 184th time,

“Israeli authorities again demolished on Thursday a Palestinian Bedouin village in the southern Negev region. ‘The Israeli authorities demolished the al-Araqib village for the 184th time,’ Aziz al-Touri, a member of the Committee for the Defense of al-Araqib, told Anadolu Agency. Al-Touri said the demolition was the ninth since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The village was demolished last on Feb. 17. Homes in Al-Araqib, which are inhabited by 22 Palestinian families, are built of wood, plastic, and corrugated iron. Al-Touri confirmed that the villagers intended to rebuild their destroyed dwellings and other structures.”

Attacking NGOs/Civil Society

Time for Israel to take the gloves off with the ICC,

By IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch, director of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch. He served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps. In his last position, he served as director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.

“…Israel must make clear to the world that it has the right to all of this land and that it is our claim that has all the legal backing. Israel must stake its legal and historically justified claim unequivocally, leaving no room for any misconception, so that no one can argue that Israel’s lack of such a claim proves that the land is Palestinian…The P.A.’s efforts to demonize Israel are supported by foreign-funded Israeli NGOs such as B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. These organizations and the others like them should be banned and prevented from conducting any activities in Israel.”

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