Top News from Israel & Palestine: October 14, 2020

What We’re Reading


Palestinian leaders call for Israel to release prisoner on 80th day of hunger strike,

“Several Palestinian political figures have raised the alarm over the deteriorating health of Maher al-Akhras, who entered the 80th day of his hunger strike on Tuesday in protest against his administrative detention – imprisonment without charges or trial – by Israel. On Tuesday, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected Akhras’s legal petition for release. Knesset member Yousef Jabareen, a member of the Joint List representing Palestinian citizens of Israel in Israel’s parliament, said that the Supreme Court “has given, again, judicial legitimisation to the occupation and violation of Palestinians’ rights”. “We are extremely worried about the dangerous deterioration of Akhras’ condition and we demand freedom for him and for all political prisoners,” Jabareen added in a statement.”

Also See – “Palestinian hunger-striker ‘close to death,’ Israeli rights group says” (Ynet)

Israel approves Judea and Samaria homes, ending de facto freeze,

“Israel green-lighted Wednesday over 2,000 new housing units for Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, ending an eight-month de facto freeze on approval for new homes. The Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Committee approved on Wednesday 2,166 new housing units in Judea and Samaria, with the committee expected to meet again Thursday to approve close to 3,000 additional housing units, for a total of roughly 5,000 units. This is the first time since February that the Higher Planning Committee approved new housing units in Judea and Samaria.”

Settlers Attack Israeli Journalist Reporting on Clashes With Palestinians,

“Channel 12 News journalist Ohad Hemo was attacked on Tuesday by Israeli settlers who threw stones at him at an olive grove in the West Bank while he was covering clashes between settler youth and Palestinian farmers in the area. “We arrived at the olive grove during the harvest season which started this week, and there the confrontation developed,” Hemo told Haaretz. “We saw that the settlers were warning the Palestinians not to start the harvest, even though it was an area they owned. The settlers approached the area – then a Palestinian pushed one of them. From there a riot broke out and the settlers started beating the Palestinians.””

2 soldiers injured after explosive thrown at them during West Bank raid,

““During the night, IDF soldiers conducted an arrest raid for a suspect in the Balata refugee camp in the city of Nablus,” the military said. “During the raid two soldiers were injured, lightly and moderately, apparently from shrapnel from an explosive charge that was thrown at them. The injured [soldiers] were taken to a hospital for medical treatment,” the IDF said in a statement.

A Plan for Expanding Har Gilo Creates a Major New Threat for Al-Walaja,

“The [Israeli] Civil Administration discussed today [October 12th]  a plan for the expansion on the Har Gilo settlement on lands of the village Al-Walaja at the western side of the village. If actualized this settlement will complete the isolation of the village which is already surrounded on its other threes sides by the Separation Barrier. Indeed, in today’s discussion it was revealed that the plan for the settlement includes extending the separation barrier so it fully encircles the village. In the past decade Israel has been gradually taking over huge parts of Al-Walaja lands and isolating it from the Palestinian space around it. In paralel home demolitions in the village have greatly intensified. Combined with these the plan for the new settlement and extension of the separation barrier pose a major threat to the future of Al-Walaja and its community.”

Border Police officer shoots into car and injures three passengers, one loses eye,

“The two cousins, who knew Jbarah by sight as a resident of the area, stopped the car. He explained that there were many soldiers around, so it was impossible to drive on, and asked to hitch a ride. Jbarah got in the car, and ‘Abdallah turned it around to drive back. He had driven a few meters when a white jeep quickly drove up and blocked their path. Three officers from a Border Police special unit got out, and one of them stood in front of the car and immediately fired a single shot into the windshield. The bullet penetrated the glass and hit Jbarah, who was sitting in the backseat, in the head. Shards of shattered glass hit the other two passengers.”

Remote learning,

“The challenges of remote learning in Gaza, where access to electricity, internet and computer technology are by no means a given, are another result of restrictions imposed by Israel. Among other factors, the closure on Gaza has eroded the economy to the point that most residents can’t afford a single computer, let alone multiple devices. A chronic shortage of electricity affects power supply and internet connection. Combined with the reality of the pandemic and the need for social distancing, Gaza’s young residents again find themselves paying a price for a reality over which they have no control. Israel must stop blocking the upgrade of Palestinian infrastructure and allow communications equipment to enter the Strip, including in order to support remote learning at this time.”


“Direct flights between Israel and the UAE, slated to begin in October after a landmark normalization deal, are to be postponed until January because of coronavirus, an Israeli official said Tuesday. The air link, one of the most tangible outcomes of the accord signed at the White House last month, aims to open up tourism and business opportunities to offset the Covid-19 slowdown that has knocked their economies.”

UAE official: We have grown accustomed to PA's lack of loyalty,

“A senior United Arab Emirates official on Tuesday fired back at the Palestinian Arab ambassador to France after he attacked the UAE over its establishment of formal relations with Israel, Times of Israel reported. The envoy, Salman El Herfi, blasted both the UAE and Bahrain in an interview with French magazine Le Point, saying, among other things, that these countries “have become more Israeli than Israel” and are violating the charter of the United Nations.”

Also See – “Top UAE official laments PA’s ingratitude after Abbas envoy rants on Israel ties” (The Times of Israel)

Joint List to vote against UAE-Israel peace deal,

“The Joint List announced on Wednesday that it plans to vote against the UAE-Israel peace deal at the Knesset plenum on Thursday. “We in principle are in favor of peace and work for true and permanent peace. In our view, the agreement with the United Arab Emirates will actually alienate peace with the Palestinians and perpetuate the occupation and settlements,” said Joint List MK Mtanes Shehadeh on Wednesday.”

Normalization cannot silence Arab resistance forever,

“The leaders who are seeking to do business with Israel are for the most part unelected monarchs who care little for the desires of the people under their rule. These kings and princes want battle-tested weapons and technology from Israel’s war machine in order to continue oppressing their own people, and to conquer and exploit countries like Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. And yet, the citizens of those countries are not so easily convinced. In Bahrain — a country with no political freedom or parties, and where activism exists only on the internet — a coalition of social organizations has declared that it will not support any agreement that ignores injustice toward the Palestinians. Activists and journalists living outside the UAE are also reflecting the feelings of ordinary citizens, who look on at their rulers’ betrayal but can do little to resist. If Israel needs to fear anything, it is the escalation of anger against its plans — anger that has emboldened dictators to further suppress any signs of democracy and resistance in their countries. All in the name of “peace.””

The Israeli Domestic Scene

Ministers decide to extend lockdown through Sunday,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday agreed to extend the lockdown until Sunday at midnight though changes could be made during the next cabinet meeting scheduled to take place on Thursday. Emergency regulations banning demonstrations and religious worship at a distance of no more than one kilometer from home, are set to expire at midnight.”

Ultra-Orthodox-Netanyahu alliance threatened by COVID-19,

In a conversation with Al-Monitor, ultra-Orthodox journalist Benny Rabinowitz said, “The story is that Netanyahu found a sophisticated way to scapegoat the ultra-Orthodox community as far back as the first round of the coronavirus pandemic. Even then, he tried to deflect attacks against him and redirect them toward the ultra-Orthodox parties. The ultra-Orthodox community has always been vulnerable to attacks, but what Netanyahu did in a very sophisticated and methodical way is to turn the ultra-Orthodox community into a target in the coronavirus crisis. Netanyahu had half a year to create an organized epidemiology network and prepare the country and its hospitals for the anticipated second wave. Instead he did nothing. After all, the state of anarchy and chaos in the country is only to his benefit. Everybody knows that when Netanyahu really wants something, he knows how to bang on the table to get it. He didn’t do that this time, yet ironically, with that inactivity, he was able to kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, he avoided getting into any arguments with his ultra-Orthodox partners by giving them everything they wanted. On the other hand, he successfully labeled them as a problematic community.”

Netanyahu ally threatens more dirt will air about AG if he doesn’t resign,

“Coalition whip Miki Zohar, a staunch ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, railed against Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Wednesday morning, calling for his resignation and warning that if he doesn’t, more damaging recordings could soon be published after a TV report aired taped phone conversations in which Mandelblit is heard complaining bitterly about Shai Nitzan, the state attorney at the time, for failing to close a criminal case against him. The threat that additional recordings would be published if the attorney general doesn’t step down and withdraw charges against the prime minister was condemned by Netanyahu and by Mandelblit himself.”

The U.S. Scene

US Congressman to i24NEWS: Israel will maintain qualitative military edge over MidEast neighbors,

“US Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) said on Tuesday that bipartisan consensus in Washington will ensure Israel will maintain its qualitative military edge (QME) in the Middle East and gave his assurance that the Jewish state’s security concerns are a top priority on Capitol Hill. Speaking with Calev Ben-David, host of i24NEWS‘ flagship program “The Rundown,” the Jewish lawmaker shed light on a new bill he introduced to Congress that seeks to enshrine America’s commitment to Israel’s QME into law after numerous media outlets reported that the US is preparing to sell highly advanced F-35 fighter jets to the UAE. “

American Jewish Congress hires Sanders’ former Jewish outreach director,

“The American Jewish Congress hired the former director of Jewish outreach for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign to be its executive director. Joel Rubin will be the advocacy group’s first Washington-based director in a decade. Once a venerable advocate for civil rights, the group fell on hard times because of the 2008 recession and because it was among the groups defrauded by disgraced financier Bernie Madoff. In recent years it has existed mainly as an outlet for Jack Rosen, an investor and prominent pro-Israel political donor who had been harshly critical of Sanders.”