Top News from Israel & Palestine: March 30, 2021

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45th Anniversary of Land Day

Land Day: Palestinians mark the 45th anniversary,

“On 30 March 1976, six Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces as hundreds of Arab citizens in the occupied territory took to the streets to protest Israel’s expropriation and occupation of Palestinian lands. The event became known as the Land Day and a symbol of national struggle that unites Palestinians around the world. Forty-five years later, Palestinians say that not much has changed, as Israel continues its policy of annexation.”

Land Day rally in West Bank town quelled by Israeli occupying forces,

“Israeli occupation forces today quelled a peaceful rally marking the 45th anniversary of Land Day in the town of Sebastia, north of the West Bank city of Nablus, according to local sources. Forces fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades towards the participants who commemorated Land Day causing many to suffocate due to excessive tear gas inhalation. The participants in the rally called for commemorating Land Day in Sebastia because of the ongoing violations practiced by the Israeli army and settlers against it and their attempts to take over its” archaeological site.”

On the occasion of Land Day, Israel forcibly laid hand over more than 85% of the total area of historical Palestine,

“Israel, since 1948, laid hand over more than 85% of the total area of the lands of historical Palestine at a time when Jews in the era of the pre-1948 British Mandate exploited only 1,682 square kilometers, or 6.2% of the lands of historical Palestine, today said the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) on the 45th anniversary of Land Day.”

Land Day 2021: Thought Israel's cleansing of Palestinians couldn't get any worse? You were wrong,

“Today, Palestinians inside Israel continue to see their land confiscated through less direct methods too, such as the denial of use, or through convoluted legal procedures. Building permits are limited and geographic expansion due to natural population growth is restricted. In the Negev, demolition of residences belonging to the Palestinian Bedouin community is almost a weekly occurrence. Nowadays, you could probably drive from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea deep in the West Bank without seeing many Palestinians. Although the majority in the region, we were systematically turned into “absent-presentees”, confined into little enclaves surrounded and separated by settlements, Israelis-only roads, and security/military zones. Ironically, such “facts on the ground” make the occupation nearly invisible to the novice eye. Particularly disturbing this year is the all-time high in measures to cleanse Jerusalem of its Palestinian population. Since 1967, they have lived under a precarious legal system, neither as Israeli citizens nor as Palestinians with similar legal status as their peers inside Israel, or the West Bank and Gaza.”

Gaza Strip

Rights group: 5,000 Gaza residents do not have ID documents,

“Thousands of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip have been deprived of identity documents, and consequently, several basic rights, most notably the right to freedom of movement, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor revealed on Sunday. In a report entitled The Gaza Strip: Undocumented Citizens, the Euro-Med stated that those without identity cards in Gaza entered the strip either before 2000 with Israeli-issued temporary visitor permits, or after 2000 during the periods when the border wall between Egypt and Gaza was breached, or through the underground tunnels that linked Egypt and Gaza before 2014. The report reviews the difficulties faced by those without ID cards, as many of them lost their lives from chronic and severe diseases after being denied travel for treatment outside Palestine.”

Israeli navy attacks Palestinian fishing boats off Gaza shore, damage one,

“Israeli navy today attacked Palestinian fishermen sailing off the northern Gaza shore and damaged one boat, reported WAFA correspondent. He said that the fishermen were sailing within the allowed three nautical miles when the Israeli navy opened gunfire and water houses at them causing damage to one boat but no injuries.”


Gaza enters second coronavirus wave, with 25% of tests coming back positive,

“With cases spiking, the Gaza Strip has entered a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, health officials in the coastal enclave told The Times of Israel on Monday. Gaza saw 815 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, the Gaza Health Ministry reported on Monday. The total number of active infections nearly tripled over the past two weeks, from 2,291 to 6,619. The daily rate of positive tests in Gaza has skyrocketed to 25 percent over the past 24 hours, according to Hamas health officials. The high positivity rate indicates that the virus is likely spreading widely undetected.”

Israel: Positive test ratio falls off below 1% as country adds 356 new coronavirus cases,

“In Israel, the positive coronavirus test ratio fell off below the one percent mark on Monday, the Health Ministry reports – a low unseen in weeks. Out of over 42,000 tests conducted yesterday, only 0.9 percent returned positive, the ministry reported Tuesday morning, adding 356 new confirmed infections to the country’s total. The number of active infections in the country is now just above 8,000, with only 638 patients currently in hospitals.”

Other COVID News

Israeli Elections 

How Netanyahu brought Israel's biggest racists seats - and legitimacy - in parliament,

“For the fourth time in two years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to convince Israeli voters to give him a 61-seat majority mandate to continue governing the country. He did achieve success in one regard, however: finally finding seats in the parliament for the Jewish Power party, the current political vehicle of the Kahanists, followers of arch-racist American-Israeli Rabbi Meir Kahane.”

Israel Election Results: Why It’s Proving So Hard to Form a Coalition Government,

“The bottom line of last week’s election is clear: For the fourth time in two years, Benjamin Netanyahu failed to secure the majority that would allow him to cancel his criminal indictment. His corruption trial is set to resume in Jerusalem District Court next Monday. What is much less clear, however, is whether anyone – including Netanyahu – will be able to form a government this time, or if Israel will be headed to a fifth election this summer.”

Israel Election Results in Arab Communities Are a Signal to the Center-left,

“It’s true, we still don’t know who will form the next government (or whether there will be another election). But at this stage it’s clear that conservatism has won, on the Jewish and Arab sides. This was the basis of UAL’s campaign, which brought it four Knesset seats. It also brought an internal electoral message: The communist Hadash party, with its liberal values, is no longer the largest Arab party. There is another message: Likud garnered more Arab votes than Meretz did (21,000 vs. 17,000), even though Meretz had a good record regarding the Arab public, with three Arab candidates in its top ten. That is apparently the bottom line. The Arabs have had enough of slogans and with only apparent cooperation, expressed as one more demonstration in Rabin Square, in meeting with friends in a Tel Aviv bar, or with the posting of ‘pet Arabs’ on a Knesset list. Now they see, at least in theory, that they can be full partners. It may not meet all their aspirations, but in the present situation, it’s better than many could have hoped for.”

Coalition Machinations – headlines

US Policy

Did the US downgrade its Palestinian ties by ‘upgrading’ its Jerusalem mission?,

“The Trump administration said merging the capital’s consulate into the embassy was more efficient. But diplomats claim it badly hampered their ability to reach out to Palestinians.”


Israel urges citizens to avoid UAE, citing Iranian threat,

“As coronavirus infections continue to decline and tourism expected to pick up steam in the coming months, the National Security Council on Monday advised tourists against travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other countries across the region, citing the threat of attack by Iran. The warning included both Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the Gulf state as well as Bahrain. Both Arab countries established diplomatic ties with Israel last year under historic U.S.-brokered agreements.”

Palestinian Elections - News & Analysis

Poll: Barghouti to win Palestine presidential elections,

“Imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti is expected to get the largest number of votes if he runs for president, Director of the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, Khalil Shikaki, said yesterday. Speaking about the latest survey conducted by his centre, Shikaki said that 78 per cent of eligible Palestinians are expected to vote in the upcoming general election. If Barghouti led an independent electoral list, and Fatah and Hamas each had their separate lists, 79 per cent of the Palestinians would participate in the parliamentary elections, the poll found. He said that 27 per cent of the voters would give their votes to Hamas’ list, 24 per cent to Fatah, 20 per cent to Barghouti and seven per cent to ousted Fatah member Mohammad Dahlan’s list.”

Also see:

Senior Palestinian officials say legislative elections cannot be held without occupied East Jerusalem,

“Two members of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said today that Palestinian legislative elections cannot be held without occupied East Jerusalem taking a full part in them. Azzam al-Ahmad, who is also a member of the ruling Fatah Central Committee headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, and Ahmad Majdalani said in two separate remarks that the Palestinian legislative elections planned for May 22 cannot be held without the inclusion of Jerusalem in nomination for parliament seats and voting at polling stations set up in the occupied city. ‘There will be no elections without Jerusalem,’ said al-Ahmad in an interview on Palestine TV. ‘It is a key partner in the democratic process.’”

Hamas submits slate for planned Palestinian election,

“Hamas on Monday unveiled its list of candidates for Palestinian elections, ending speculation over a joint list between the Islamic terror group ruling Gaza and the secular Fatah that runs the West Bank.” Also see: Hamas launches ‘Jerusalem Is Our Promise’ list for May Palestinian legislative elections (the New Arab)

Palestinian Elections, Finally - Significance, Challenges and European Responsibilities,

“2021 is shaping up to be a year of elections for the Palestinians, both in the Palestinian Territories and across the world. Three ballots are scheduled for the institutions of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). It is still unclear whether they will all take place as planned. The PA elections certainly have an important role to play in integrating the younger generations in the Terri­tories, restoring political accountability and reinstating democratic checks and bal­ances. The elections to the Palestinian National Council – the PLO’s parliament in exile – would be even more significant and a crucial step towards creating a repre­sentative organ and establishing the basis for an inclusive discussion about the lib­eration movement’s future strategy and the role of the PA. The EU and its member states have been calling for years for the Palestinian leadership to revive the democratic process and overcome the Fatah/Hamas split. They should therefore not only support the elections with observers but also contribute actively to their being as free, fair and competitive as possible under the difficult circumstances.”

Is the end of PLO political hegemony in the West Bank near?,

“When Palestinian elections were first discussed, the spotlight immediately turned to the struggle between Fatah and Hamas and the fear that under cover of the elections, Hamas would infiltrate the West Bank. But it soon became clear that the story was not Fatah against Hamas, but Fatah against Fatah. What is at the root of the Fatah problem? Actually, there are two competing Fatahs. The first consists of the PLO leadership of the ‘exile,’ with its old roots in today’s Israel, for whom the formative event was the 1948 nakba…The second is made up of the Palestinians in the West Bank, who have little or no attachment to the nakba, and what they want is the stabilization of their lives in the West Bank [sic]…”

Civil Society

Israeli Billboard Firm Refuses Ad for Joint Palestinian-Israeli Memorial Service,

“An Israeli company providing outdoor advertising has refused to advertise a joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial service, calling it a controversial event that can cause the company financial damage. ‘This can cause me losses I can’t even contemplate,’ says CTV’s CEO Eilon Rosman in conversation with the Combatants for Peace movement, which produces the joint annual ceremony. Human rights lawyer Itay Mack, who represents the movement, appealed to the CEO and told him that the company’s refusal is in violation of the law against discrimination between products. Following Mack’s letter to Rosman and an appeal to the company by Haaretz, the CEO said that this was a controversial issue, requiring the approval of the Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan municipalities before advertising may proceed in those cities.”