Top News from Israel & Palestine: March 8, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation & International Women's Day 2021

Police break up ‘illegal’ East Jerusalem International Women’s Day event,

“Israel Police on Monday broke up an event at a women’s center in East Jerusalem to mark International Women’s Day, saying it was being held illegally. ‘This was a Palestinian Authority event, and illegal by law. The Public Security Ministry issued an order declaring it as such, and police executed the order,’ spokesperson Roni Markovitz said. The Palestinian Wafa news agency reported that the head of the A-Tur Women’s Center, Ikhlas Sayyad, and clothes designer Manal Abu Sbeitan were detained in the raid on an exhibition of traditional Palestinian clothes and objects made by women.” Also see: Israel Breaks Up East Jerusalem Women’s Day Event, Claiming It’s Affiliated With PA (Haaretz)

Occupation, Settlements, Annexation 

In two weeks, Israel demolished 35 Palestinian structures, displacing 98 people, including 53 children - UN,

“Citing the lack of building permits, Israel demolished or seized in the occupied territories in the period between 16 February and 1 March 35 Palestinian-owned structures, displacing 98 people, of whom 53 were children, and otherwise affecting about 60 others, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). It said in its biweekly Protection of Civilians report that on 22 February, the Israeli authorities confiscated another 18 residential and animal structures in Humsa – Al Bqai’a, a Palestinian Bedouin community in Area C of the occupied northern Jordan Valley in the West Bank, most of which had been provided as a humanitarian response to previous demolitions and confiscations; 10 households, comprising over 60 people, including 36 children, were again displaced.”

37 Palestinians [workers] Shot Trying to Sneak Into Israel Since 2020, UN Says,

“Soldiers shot and wounded 37 Palestinian workers trying to cross into Israel through breaches in the separation barrier since the start of 2020; 23 were shot last year, the United Nations said. In the first two months of this year, 14 were shot under the same circumstances.”

'There's no reason for Israel not to apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria',

“Settlement Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said Sunday that he believes that Israel will extend sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, without disclosing a timeline for the move. In an exclusive interview with i24NEWS, Hanegbi said, ‘It doesn’t make sense that half a million people who live in Judea and Samaria cannot live under Israeli law, we did it in the Golan Heights and we will do it in Judea and Samaria,’ he said, using the Israeli designation for the disputed territories. Regarding future normalization deals with Arab Gulf countries, Hanegbi declared that he ‘cannot foresee how far the relations with the Gulf States will develop but it is an alliance which should be able to be made according to the decisions of the populations too, the new agreements will change things.’”

‘All I can do is film, and it breaks my heart’,

“Entire communities in south Hebron are under threat of expulsion, while Israeli soldiers try to prevent activists like me from filming the demolitions.”

Israeli Military Prosecutor Seeks Gag Order on Verdict Implying Suspect Was Tortured,

“A military prosecutor sought a gag order on Sunday on a section of a sentence implying that the defendant was tortured during his interrogation, after the military judge refused the prosecution’s request that this section be removed from the text.”


Israel's military courts for Palestinians are a stain on international justice,

“Regardless of the existence of the PA penal code and judiciary, which operate with limited autonomy in parts of the occupied territory, all Palestinians, wherever they reside in the West Bank, remain subject to the jurisdiction of Israel’s military courts if they fall foul of certain laws. The impact of this military judicial system is far-reaching, and profoundly discriminatory.” Also see: PA: Settler crimes expose efforts to protect Israel from ICC investigation (Middle East Monitor)

Israel’s dilemma: To work with ICC war crimes probe or not?,

“Israel faces a dilemma: should it argue its case to International Criminal Court investigators looking into alleged war crimes in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, or refuse to cooperate?”

Meretz: ICC investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes justified,

“Meretz party head Nitzan Horowitz justified the International Criminal Court’s decision to investigate Israel for war crimes, saying “there was room for the decision,” in an interview, Saturday night. Speaking to Channel 13 News’ Ayala Hasson, Horowitz said, ‘Israel needs to ask itself what it did to prevent it.’ Asked if the decision crossed a red line, he said, ‘The red line is that there are no negotiations with the Palestinians and we’re continuing to build settlements like there’s no tomorrow, and then we wonder why there are steps taken against that.’” Also see:Meretz Leader Doubles Down, Blames Netanyahu for ICC Probe Against Israel (Haaretz) & Unmoved by outrage, Meretz leader says the right is responsible for ICC probe (Times of Israel)

Palestinian premier: ‘If ICC indicts Israel, we can take US firms to court’,

“Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said last week that an indictment of Israel by the International Criminal Court would open the door to U.S. companies and organizations being hauled before the court. It was for this reason, he said, that the United States had exerted ‘unparalleled’ pressure against the P.A.’s 2015 request to join the ICC.” Also see: PA says will foil any Israeli, US plan for UNSC to suspend ICC probe


Israel starts vaccinating Palestinian workers after delays,

“Israel, which has faced criticism for excluding Palestinians from its vaccination campaign, started to inoculate Palestinians working in the country and in settlements in the occupied West Bank, more than two months after launching an immunisation blitz of its own population. Palestinian labourers who crossed into Israel at several occupied West Bank checkpoints received their first doses of the Moderna vaccine on Monday. Some 100,000 Palestinian labourers from the West Bank work in Israel and its settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.” Also see: Israel postpones roll-out of COVID vaccine to Palestinian workers (Al Jazeera, March 6)

Ramallah, nearby villages enter lockdown until March 14 - report,

“A tight lockdown was imposed on Ramallah and adjacent villages until March 14, N12 reported on Saturday.The closure was imposed in an attempt to decrease morbidity rates that have been rising in the area in the past few days amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

Gaza Strip

Military members in Gaza protest PA decision to force them into retirement,

“These measures taken by the President and the Palestinian Government, were adopted without a Law by Decree or presidential decree or Government decision, and were met with wide-ranging objections by Palestinian civil society organisations.”

Gaza refugees protest against cuts in UNRWA food assistance,

“Hundreds of Palestinian refugees closed the UN Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA)’s food distribution centres in Gaza yesterday to protest against the organisation’s reduction in food assistance, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported.”

Rights Group Says Three Gaza Fishermen Killed by Errant Palestinian Rocket,

“Three fishermen were killed on Sunday when their boat exploded off the Gaza Strip, a blast that a human rights group said was likely caused by errant Palestinian rocket fire, refuting earlier reports of Israeli fire. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said the boat was two miles offshore when the shell hit and ‘completely destroyed it.’”

Israel & the Region/World

How Christian Evangelical Money and Biblical Prophecy Are Driving Immigration to Israel,

“Once the proud preserve of Jewish Diaspora organizations, aliyah funding is increasingly being ‘outsourced’ to deeply devout Christian groups with equally deep pockets and their own motives to encourage the ingathering of the exiles.”

Israeli jets escort American B-52s during flyby, in show of force to Iran,

“Israeli F-15 fighter jets escorted two American B-52 bombers through Israeli airspace on Sunday in a new show of force by the United States against Iran — with an Israeli element — amid rising tensions in the region.”

Palestinian Scene/Elections

PLO slams US for ignoring Palestinian misery, pro-Israel, anti-ICC bias,

“Palestinians have accused the Biden Administration of ignoring their suffering for its bias in opposing the International Criminal Court’s war crimes probe into Israeli action in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza. The US ‘totally ignored the legitimate rights of the Palestinians to have a viable state, while the Israeli occupation state continues to annex vast areas of the Palestinian territory in an attempt to undermine the so-called two-state solution,’ said Tayseer Khaled, member of the PLO Executive Committee on Saturday.”

Speculation grows Abbas may cancel presidential election over fresh Fatah row,

“In rare move, longtime Fatah member breaks away from party, calls on Marwan Barghouti to lead new list Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas may cancel the presidential vote slated for July as rumors on a potential run by popular Palestinian leader imprisoned in Israel, Marwan Barghouti, intensify, news agency Reuters reported on Sunday. Abbas’s office denied any such intention, but a rift reported within his Fatah faction may yet lead to more figures breaking away from the party. Nasser al-Qudwa, a longtime member of Fatah’s top Central Committee, announced last week that he was leaving Fatah and will challenge with a newly-formed slate in May’s legislative election.”

Also see:

'Hamas Will Conquer the West Bank'? How Israeli Defense Officials – and Media – Distort Reality,

“‘At a time when Hamas is threatening to conquer the West Bank as well via elections, Israel is looking elsewhere’ was the Hebrew-language headline of an analysis by Amos Harel published by Haaretz on February 26 (the English headline was different). Its first section describes senior Israeli officials’ fears of a Hamas victory in the May 22 Palestinian general elections. The Hebrew headline encapsulates the essence of the article and unintentionally reveals a false consciousness, which in turn is liable to distort readers’ perceptions of reality.”

DFLP condemns Abbas decision to postpone union elections,

“The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) condemned on Sunday the decision by Mahmoud Abbas to postpone the election of Palestinian syndicates, unions and popular organisations for six months, Shehab news agency has reported. According to the DFLP, the Palestinian Authority president’s decision raises certain ‘question marks’ because there are no elections on the agenda for such bodies.”

Israeli Scene/Elections

Racism and Incitement Index 2020: The Increase in Racism and Incitement against Palestinians and Arabs During the Pandemic,

“The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media published today, Monday, March 8, 2021, the results of the Index of Racism and Incitement in Israeli Social Networks during the year 2020, which showed an increase in violent discourse against Palestinians and Arabs by 16% compared to 2019. The results indicated the spread of about 574,000 conversations that included violent speech towards Palestinians and Arabs, with 1 out of every 10 posts about Palestinians and Arabs containing violent speech. With 495,000 violent posts published in 2020, an increase of 79,000 posts was visible in comparison to the previous year. The results this year showed that, due to the Corona pandemic, racist discourse towards Palestinians and Arabs increased by 21%, with hate speech constituting 29%, and incitement 7% of these posts. The most prominent platforms used to spread racism and incitement during the previous year was Twitter with 61% of all violent posts. This is an increase by more than double compared to 2019. Facebook on the other hand fell to the second place with a rate of 19%, which is a decrease of 20% compared to 2019.”

Targeting NGOs/Free Speech, Lawfare, & Weaponization of Definition of “Antisemitism” 

A Pro-Israel Lawyer Is Weaponizing Public Records Law Against Palestinian Activists,

“In recent years, a range of scholars who have written on or organized around Palestine have been hit by expansive public records requests from pro-Israel advocates seeking private correspondence and travel records. The scholars say that the requests are aimed at embarrassing them and deterring them from doing work on Palestine…The UCLA case, though, poses a new kind of threat because the targets are not accomplished scholars but students trying to enter the professional world for the first time. ‘This invites the kind of chill that is implicated in McCarthy-era cases, turning over lists of organizations’ members to see if they’re Reds,’ said Claudia Polsky, the director of UC Berkeley’s Environmental Law Clinic and the author of a UCLA Law Review article examining the abuse of public records laws. ‘That’s how you chill First Amendment rights — you make people afraid to show up and speak their minds.’”

The solution to delegitimization begins in Israel,

“The outpouring of condemnation following the outrageous decision by the International Criminal Court at The Hague conceals a simple truth: Radical Israeli left-wing organizations, funded by foreign countries, stand behind it, as do many others that censure Israel…These organizations, which include “B’Tselem,” “Peace Now,” “Yesh Din,” “Breaking the Silence” and others, have found a route to bypass democracy…In the upcoming Knesset, I intend to propose a bill mandating a state-appointed comptroller to audit the accounts of organizations acting against state interests. The comptroller will be required to co-sign all transactions of these accounts and will veto any outlay of funds for the purpose of promoting a boycott or the indictment of IDF soldiers.”

Victory for BDS as judge SLAPPS down Zionist attempt to stifle free speech [Shurat HaDin case],

“An Israeli soldier who launched a $6 million defamation action in America against a Palestinian Christian has seen her legal efforts backfire spectacularly. Although her lawyer urged the US judge to apply Israeli defamation law, which punishes criticism of the Zionist State by up to one year in prison, Rebecca Rumshiskaya lost her case. Californian Judge Craig Griffin rejected and dismissed the lawsuit as well as the attempt to apply Israeli laws in his Orange County Superior Court. In his ruling, the judge also granted Palestinian Suhair Nafal’s anti-SLAPP motion and said that Rumshiskaya must pay the defendant’s legal costs. The anti-SLAPP laws are designed to deter people from using the US courts, and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate people who are exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech. A “strategic lawsuit against public participation” (SLAPP) is one intended to deter freedom of speech, and which the plaintiff usually doesn’t really expect to win.”

Also see:

UCLA Student Gov’t Passes Resolution Accusing Israel of “Ethnic Cleansing”,

“The UCLA student government passed a resolution on March 3 alleging that the Israeli government is committing ‘ethnic cleansing’ against the Palestinians. The Journal obtained a copy of the resolution, titled ‘A Resolution Calling for the UC to Divest from War.’ The resolution called for the University of California system to divest from ‘the war industry’ and for ‘the university to sever itself from companies that engage or aid in the oppression of any people.’ But what Jewish groups and students have taken issue with is that the resolution states that divestment is a legitimate tool to fight against injustice, citing ‘South African apartheid’ and ‘ethnic cleansing in Palestine by the Israeli government.’ The resolution also promotes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution passed by the UCLA student government in 2014.”

This rabbi got Kentucky to adopt an anti-Semitism resolution. But not all Jews are happy.,

“Rabbi Shlomo Litvin said the resolution may stanch a wave of anti-Semitic incidents in Lexington, Kentucky. Critics worry it could be used to silence free speech by those who criticize Israel.”

Ramallah office of a health group raided by Israeli occupation forces, ransacked and hard discs seized,

“Israeli occupation forces raided early this morning the headquarters of the Palestinian Health Work Committees (HWC) in Ramallah, ransacked it, and seized the computer hard discs, according to a statement by HWC. It said the soldiers raided the building in a Ramallah neighborhood where the HWC headquarters is located, broke down the doors to the office, searched the premises for hours before leaving with the hard discs and other documents. It said the raid took place despite the fact that the office is a civilian and humanitarian health organization. The soldiers had also raided this morning the Ramallah house of an accountant employee of the HWC and detained him.”

Canary Mission Statement on Dental Student, Adam Elayan,

“…StandWithUs emailed us suggesting that we look at his case. Having seen a copy of Adam’s op-ed, we had a number of questions. One question regarded what he meant by anti-Semitism. It is no secret that far-left extremists object to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. This is despite its adoption by governments, institutions and sporting bodies around the world, including the Biden administration. In the words of the definition, it is anti-Semitic to deny ‘the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.’ We asked Adam what he meant by his being against anti-Semitism. He confirmed that he meant the IHRA definition. After receiving his answer and being satisfied by the discussions he held with StandWithUs, it was appropriate to remove him from Canary Mission.”