Top News from Israel & Palestine: November 4, 2020

What We’re Reading

Occupation/Annexation/Human Rights

After 100 days, Palestinian hunger striker ‘can collapse at any moment’,

“Palestinian prisoner Maher al-Akhras has been on hunger strike for 100 days to protest his administrative detention. After four petitions were rejected by Israel’s High Court of Justice, it seems the authorities simply do not care if al-Akhras dies. The state claims that the only way for him to be released is if he agrees to put an immediate end to his hunger strike and serves the rest of his detention until it ends on Nov. 26. Al-Akhras, 49, a father of six from the village of Silat al-Dahr in the occupied West Bank, was arrested on July 28. On Aug. 7, he was placed under administrative detention for four months after Israeli authorities claimed he was a “prominent operative in Islamic Jihad,” a claim al-Akhras has repeatedly rejected outright.”

In pandemic, of all times: Number of Palestinians Israel has left homeless hits four-year record,

“In the midst of an unprecedented health and economic crisis, more Palestinians in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) lost their homes in the first 10 months of 2020 alone than in any full year since 2016 – the highest year on record since B’Tselem started collecting this data. As a result of Israel’s policy, 798 Palestinians have already lost their homes in 2020, including 404 minors who lived in 218 homes – compared to 677 Palestinians in all of 2019, 397 in 2018 and 521 in 2017. Israeli authorities also demolished 301 Palestinian non-residential structures and infrastructure facilities in the first ten months of 2020. This includes humanitarian infrastructure such as water cisterns and pipes and electricity grids, which are crucial to sanitation and health at this time.”

Entire community demolished yesterday

“…yesterday, 3 November 2020, on the eve of US elections, the Civil Administration came with a military escort, two bulldozers and two diggers to the community of Khirbet Humsah in the northern Jordan Valley. The forces demolished 18 tents and sheds that housed 11 families, numbering 74 people in total, 41 of them minors. The forces also demolished 29 tents and sheds used as livestock enclosures, three storage sheds, nine tents used as kitchens, 10 portable toilets, 10 livestock pens, 23 water containers, two solar panels, and feeding and watering throughs for livestock. They also destroyed more than 30 tons of fodder for livestock and confiscated a vehicle and two tractors belonging to three residents.”

Dozens of Palestinian prisoners in Israel test positive for COVID-19,

“The ward where the infections emerged was used mostly for Hamas suspects, Haaretz reported. According to the outlet, the prisoners claim they were infected by one of the wardens. Hamas leader Abbas al-Sayed is among those infected, his wife told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.”

Also See

  • “Covid-19: Scores of Palestinian prisoners infected” (Middle East Eye)

Israeli Soldiers Kill Palestinian Gunman Who Fired on Them, Army Says,

“According to the army, the attacker drove by in a vehicle near the southern exit from the city of Nablus and fired two shots at the soldiers, who returned fired and shot the man dead. According to Palestinian media outlets, the attacker was 29-year-old Bilal Rojava, served as a legal advisor to the Palestinian security forces in the region of Tubas, a city in the northeastern West Bank. The Palestinian Health Ministry issued a statement condemning the incident, calling it a “brutal execution.” The ministry called on the international community to intervene and bring those responsible to justice. It also urged the International Criminal Court in The Hague to launch an investigation into Israel’s alleged war crimes against the Palestinians.”

Also See

  • “Palestinian killed by Israeli fire near West Bank checkpoint” (Middle East Eye)
  • “Israeli occupation forces kill Palestinian near major West Bank checkpoint” (WAFA)
  • “PA security officer opens fire on IDF troops, is shot dead, army says” (The Times of Israel)
  • “IDF kills Palestinian who opened fire on troops in West Bank” (Ynet)

In overnight and early morning raids, Israeli occupation forces detain 25 Palestinians, most from East Jerusalem,

“Israeli occupation forces today detained 25 Palestinians from various parts of the occupied territories, but mainly from East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS).”

Israeli settlers beat up, injure two elderly Palestinians near Jenin,

“Two elderly Palestinians were injured today evening after being attacked by Israeli settlers near the town of Silat al-Harithiya to the south of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, according to WAFA correspondent. A group of settlers attacked with stones Palestinian vehicles driving on Jenin-Nablus road, severally beating up two Palestinians, aged 62 and 65, after destroying their car, causing them injuries and bruises throughout their bodies.”

Israeli forces detain Israeli human rights staff near Salfit,

“Israeli forces detained today a Palestinian and a Yesh Din’s staff, an Israeli human rights organization, near the town of Deir Istia, northwest of the Salfit governorate, in the central occupied West Bank. Resident ‘Amer Abu Hijleh told WAFA Israeli forces stationed near the illegal settlement of Yakir, located north of the town of Beit Istia, held him for hours along with a Yesh Din’s staff, a leading Israeli human rights organization in monitoring the investigations of offenses committed by security forces against Palestinians.”

Jerusalem cable car excavation work to begin in next few days,

“Excavation works will start within two weeks to prepare for construction of the controversial cable car planned to connect West Jerusalem with the Old City, even though the High Court has not yet ruled on a petition to scrap the project. On Thursday, project director Shmulik Tzabari met with stakeholders on Mount Zion to explain that works to move infrastructure would soon commence at the parking lot adjacent to the Shulhan David event hall, which is currently undergoing renovation.”

Israeli military to conduct drills in northern Jordan Valley,

“The Israeli military today notified several Palestinian communities in the northern Jordan Valley to evacuate their houses in preparation for military drills, according to a local official. Mutaz Bisharat, a Tubas governorate official, said that Israeli forces stormed al-Farisiya, al-Burj and al-Mayta villages, and ordered at least 14 families to evacuate their homes on next Tuesday and Wednesday, citing the need to carry out military drills as a pretext. Soldiers also ordered a villager to evacuate his home and remove his tents in al-Farisiya, purportedly to make room for tanks during the drills.”

Palestinian envoy to UNESCO: Pressure Israel to return 'stolen' artifact,

“The Palestinian envoy to UNESCO, Mounir Anastas, called on the United Nations’ cultural heritage arm to pressure Israel into returning a Byzantine-era baptismal font back into the possession of Palestinian authorities, according to the state-run WAFA news agency. The fifth century baptismal font was originally stolen from the Tel Tekoa archaeological site in the West Bank by antiquity looters around 20 years ago. The artifact, which dates back to the Byzantine period, is about 1.5 meters high and is shaped as an octagon and decorated with a cross and a stylized garland.”

Israeli Foreign Relations/Normalization/Arms Race

Malawi to be first African state with embassy in Jerusalem,

“Malawi plans to open an embassy in Israel and place it in Jerusalem, making it the first African state to do so, Malawian Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka announced Tuesday during a visit to Israel. Malawi, which does not have an embassy in Israel, plans to open one by next summer, he said.”

UAE budget airline flydubai to start Tel Aviv flights from end of month,

“The United Arab Emirates’ state-owned flydubai airline announced on Wednesday that it would begin to offer flights to Tel Aviv from the end of the month, days after Abu Dhabi gave its final okay to a visa exemption program with Israel. The low-cost airline said that tickets were on sale for flights from November 26, and that it would offer a twice-daily route between Tel Aviv and Dubai.”

[Analysis] Letters to the Editor On “Israel’s Repressive Diplomacy”,

“We received a number of critical letters in response to Editor-at-Large Peter Beinart’s article “Israel’s Repressive Diplomacy” (October 26th, 2020). Because the letters all made similar arguments, we’re [Jewish Currents] publishing one that we believe to be representative, along with a response by Beinart.”

The Future of U.S.-Israeli Relations

Israeli UN Envoy Says Partnership With U.S. to Persist Regardless of Election Result,

“Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nation Gilad Erdan said Wednesday that Jerusalem would continue coordinating its moves and maintain full cooperation with the United States regardless of the 2020 presidential election. Speaking in an interview with Israeli army radio, Erdan said Israel would “coordinate and cooperate with whatever administration that is elected, because it is a strategic partnership. Israel is an island of stability in the Middle East for the United States.””

Republican Netanyahu Ally Lindsey Graham Reelected to U.S. Senate,

“One of the most fiercely contested races in the U.S. Senate ended in a decisive victory for South Carolina incumbent Republican Lindsey Graham…Graham is close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and considered a key voice in advocating for hawkish pro-Israel views. He took the lead in opposing the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal, and has pushed for military aid to Israel. He also sponsored the Taylor Force Act, which withholds U.S. government funds to the Palestinian Authority until they cease paying the families of Palestinian prisoners convicted of terror attacks by Israeli courts. He also co-sponsored legislation formally condemning UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which deems Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal.”

Israeli diaspora minister to make first official visit to U.S.,

“Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch will depart next week for her first official foreign trip since taking office, to spend three days meeting with members of the Jewish community in Los Angeles.  Yankelevitch, who entered the ministerial position in May, has been grounded — like much of the world — by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenges involved in such a trip, she told Jewish Insider that it was important for her to meet face-to-face with members of the global Jewish community.”

Israel’s unholy alliance with American evangelicals tested by election,

“The unholy trinity of Trump, Netanyahu and committed settler advocate Ambassador David Friedman thrives on the alliance with the evangelicals. Over decades, the movement has raised $1bn for Israel, much of it for immigration and settlements, both crucial components in their big plan to bring in the Apocalypse.”

[Analysis] Netanyahu putting all his eggs in Trump’s basket,

“This week marked another uptick in the total disappearance of all shame when a group of leading religious nationalist rabbis, members of Netanyahu’s political base, issued an official letter calling on Americans to vote for Trump. The detailed letter laid out all the potential threats to Israel posed by a possible Biden presidency, compared to Trump’s many positive attributes and advantages for Israel. The writers urged all Israelis who hold American citizenship to vote for Trump, arguing that for Israel it’s a question of survival. “This type of letter could result in strategic disaster for us,” a former senior office holder in the Yesha West Bank settlement council told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “If these rabbis think that no one in Biden’s circle reads it, they are wrong. The question is what their backup plan is in case Biden is elected and not Trump. They are willing to endanger our most important strategic interests for momentary gratification.””

[Analysis] Israel's intelligence chief wants next US president to continue Abraham Accords.,

“Cohen said that whoever wins the US presidential election Tuesday should take a firm stance on Iran, as otherwise progress on the potential agreements could stall. “A concessionary policy will get the peace deals stuck,” he said, according to Reuters. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has suggested that Washington sees opportunity in shared concerns among Middle Eastern governments over Iran’s activities in the region.”

[Opinion] Israel Doesn't Need Trump. We'll Always Have Bibi,

“Trump left Israel and the Palestinians with no diplomatic horizon. He left Israel with no chance to separate from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. And he left it with the occupation, which has dictated and continues to dictate the country’s character, laws and culture. Nevertheless, his legacy will remain. Even if Joe Biden is the next U.S. president, Trumpism will survive in Israel for as long as Netanyahu remains prime minister.”

Lawfare/Free Speech/Stifling Dissent

Lawfare project looks to extradite convicted Palestinian terrorist to US,

“The Lawfare project announced that they are working towards extraditing convicted Palestinian terrorist Ahlam Tamimi from Jordan to the United States. Tamimi helped plan and coordinate the 2001 suicide bombing on a Sbarro’s restaurant in Jerusalem.”

In first application of anti-BDS law, Germany censors Israelis,

“In Germany, BDS is considered antisemitic. In May 2019 the German parliament passed a controversial piece of legislation equating support for the BDS movement with antisemitism. The decision itself isn’t legally binding, however, the government can choose to enforce the resolution by way of banning public funds towards groups that support the boycotts against Israel. “