Top News from Israel & Palestine: October 2, 2020

What We’re Reading

Settlements/Occupation/De Facto Annexation

Israel pushing construction of thousands of homes in Judea and Samaria,

Some 2,929 housing units are slated for construction in the Beitar Illit bloc in Gush Etzion. Overall, 2,476 homes will be built across the regional councils in Judea and Samaria, and 21 homes will be constructed in communities in south Mount Hebron.Sources familiar with Netanyahu’s decision told Israel Hayom that it contradicts the assertion that Israel as forced to place a moratorium on settlement construction as part of its peace deals with the UAE and Bahrain.

Palestine issues first batch of building permits in the Israeli-controlled northern Jordan Valley,

The Palestinian Ministry of Local Government today issued the first batch of building permits for the Palestinian residents in the Israeli-controlled northern Jordan Valley. This step is seen as defying Israeli control of the occupied Jordan Valley and its plans to annex it despite strong international opposition.

Dozens of Palestinians Detained from the West Bank,

The Israeli forces detained dozens of Palestinians, in the predawn hours of Thursday, from the occupied West Bank, including a journalist and former prisoners.

Israel arrests senior Hamas leader in West Bank,

Hassan Youssef, the leader of Hamas in the West Bank and one of the terror group’s founding members, was arrested Friday morning at his house in Ramallah by Israeli security forces….In a statement condemning Youssef’s arrest, Hamas claimed that Israel had arrested the West Bank commander for purely political reasons….Fatah Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub also condemned Youssef’s arrest, accusing Israeli authorities of what he called “tampering” with the ongoing Palestinian reconciliation talks

Human Rights/Violence

Legal group demands Israel end impunity for killing of Palestinian citizens,

Legal campaigners have demanded Israel ends the culture of impunity surrounding the killing of Palestinian citizens by the security services, saying the perception of Palestinians as “the enemy” encourages deadly police violence. The Adalah centre, which focus on providing support for minorities in Israel, specifically called for the security services to be held accountable for the killing of 13 Palestinians by Israeli police at demonstrations in October 2000, as well as the 2017 killing of Yaakub Abu al-Qian, a Bedouin maths teacher. “There is a direct link between the closure of the Abu al-Qian case and the October 2000 cases, in which 13 Arab demonstrators were killed by police in Israel during protests throughout the country,” said Adalah in a statement on Thursday. “These cases rely on the same policy of no criminal charges filed against law enforcement authorities, including the police, in cases involving the killing of Palestinian citizens of Israel, even where there is clear evidence of the illegal use of force.”

Thirteen killed, no one punished: Remembering October 2000,

During a single week in October of 2000, Israeli Police shot dead 13 Palestinians — 12 of them Israeli citizens — who took to the streets to show solidarity with demonstrators in the West Bank and Gaza. The violence profoundly impacted the Palestinian community in Israel. Just as devastating, however, has been the complete absence of accountability.

Here's What Happens With the Investigations the Israeli Army Launches When It Kills Innocent Palestinians,

Almost every time Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian in the territories, the army announces the opening of an investigation by the Military Police. But a look back at incidents reported here over the past year reveals that such inquiries rarely conclude – if they ever began…This week we looked into the progress of investigations of a few of the cases in which IDF soldiers killed or seriously wounded Palestinians, about which this column wrote in recent months. Not one investigation has ended, we were told – not even the ostensibly simplest of them, not even in cases that happened many months ago. The soldiers who did the shooting remain free; some have already completed their military service. The agony of the bereaved Palestinian families is thus augmented by a painful feeling of injustice because those who shot or killed their loved ones are not even being brought to trial and will almost certainly never be punished. It’s hard to argue with the feeling of being wronged that is experienced by virtually every bereaved Palestinian family, which seeks at least a measure of belated justice for its loss.

PCHR Weekly Report: Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continued to commit crimes and multi-faceted violations against Palestinian civilians and their properties, including raids into Palestinian cities that are characterized with excessive use of force, assault, abuse and attacks on civilians. This week, IOF attacks rendered 9 Palestinian civilians wounded in excessive use of force, including a child and a journalist in the West Bank. IOF also continued its policy of demolishing and destroying Palestinian houses and facilities for its settlement expansion schemes…This week, PCHR documented 35 violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL) by IOF and settlers in the oPt. It should be noted that the limitations due to the corona virus pandemic, has limited PCHR’s fieldworkers mobility and ability to conduct field documentation; therefore, the information contained in this report is only part of the continued IOF violations.

The Palestinian rights organization, Al-Haq, receives the Gwynne Skinner Human Rights Award,

The Ramallah-based Palestinian human rights organization, Al-Haq, yesterday received the Gwynne Skinner Human Rights Award, presented by the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), for its outstanding work in the field of corporate accountability for human rights and international law violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, an Al-Haq press release said today….In his speech during the award ceremony, Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq’s General Director, affirmed that: “corporations have historically been used to achieve colonial conquest, but what makes Israel’s actions unique, is that it has made its conquest multinational in nature with corporations from around the world participating.” Al-Haq dedicates part of its efforts to challenge the Israeli colonial policies by trying to hold multinational companies accountable for their human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Report: Jordan deported Sbarro terrorist mastermind's husband to force her out,

Jordanian authorities demanded convicted terrorist Nizar al-Tamimi leave the country last week, according to Arab-language media reports. The move is apparently a move by the Hashemite Kingdom to kick his wife out of the country who is wanted by the US….Ahlam al-Tamimi was responsible for the deadly 2001 Sbarro pizzeria suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, for which Israel sentenced her to 16 life sentences. Although Israel released her, she is currently wanted by the US for the murder of two American citizens killed in the attack….Although the US and Jordan signed an extradition treaty, it was not ratified by the National Assembly. The Jordanian Courts of Cassation, the highest appellate court, said she could not be deported because she is a Jordanian citizen.


Eight people have died of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Palestine in the last 24 hours while 521 new corona cases were recorded and 881 recovered, today said Minister of Health Mai Alkaila.

Flailing in the face of COVID-19, Israel is now on the brink of catastrophe,

Israel is flailing on the very brink of catastrophe.Having started off so well in its battle against COVID-19, it finds itself in the last few days with a higher death rate per capita than the United States. A higher daily rate of new confirmed cases than just about anywhere else on Earth. A rate of positive tests rising, with some 40 percent of the most recent cases being diagnosed in the ultra-Orthodox community. More than 800 serious cases in our hospitals — the level, we have been told for months, at which the health service would be fully stretched — prompting an emergency directive from Health Ministry Director General Chezy Levy to free up 1,500 more beds in hospitals nationwide for COVID-19 patients. So often tactically innovative, Israel has been exposed as strategically hapless in this pandemic, hamstrung by its bloated and dysfunctional government, which spends days bickering about regulations that it then changes week to week — toying with a public that is losing its (physical and mental) health, its income and its freedom of movement.

Sukkot in the shadow of corona: 7,643 new cases reported on Friday,

Currently, there are 70,941 active cases of the virus in Israel, 849 who are in serious condition, among them 201 who are intubated. The death toll stands at 1,629. Israel went from being one of the country’s with the lowest mortality rates to a country with one of the highest per day for its population size. Moreover, the number of new patients per day is also among the highest in the world per capita – but this is connected to how many people are screened, as well.

Coronavirus being used to intimidate Palestinians inside Israeli prisons, says group,

According to a statement issued by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoners’ Club on 27 September, 31 prisoners in Israel’s jails had been infected with the coronavirus, including two detainees whose infection was only discovered a day after their release. Now there are concerns that the Israeli authorities are using the pandemic as a tool of suppression against, and to create fear among, Palestinian prisoners.

Top Hamas official contracts coronavirus,

Deputy Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri has contracted the covornvirs, the Gaza Strip-based terrorist group confirmed on Thursday….Arouri is believed to have contracted the disease while meeting with Fatah officials in Turkey last week to discuss ending longtime strife between he rival Palestinian factions, which have recently announced they would call general elections.

“Peace” / Normalization / Broader Middle East

In First Direct Talks in 30 Years, Israel, Lebanon Agree to Negotiate Maritime Border,

Israel and Lebanon have confirmed Thursday that they have agreed to begin negotiations on a maritime border. The talks will be mediated by the United States, under the auspices of the United Nations and led by Israel’s National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz. According to U.S. Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker they are set to begin on October 14.Lebanon‘s parliament speaker said on Thursday that a framework had been agreed for talks between the two nations, who are still in a formal state of war and have contested their land and maritime borders for decades, namely over an area in the sea on the edge of three Lebanese offshore energy blocks. Nevertheless, Israel and Lebanon do not intend to currently discuss their land borders, a far more controversial dispute between them. Schenker stressed talks won’t deal with any other issues apart from the maritime border.

Mossad chief holds talks with Bahrain as ties with Israel deepen,

srael’s top spy chief Yossi Cohen has held talks with Bahrain’s intelligence services following the two countries recent normalisation of relations, Bahraini state media reported on Thursday. The Bahrain News Agency (BNA) said that Cohen, director of Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, had visited Bahrain on Wednesday to discuss “topics of mutual interest” and “cooperation between the two countries”. “They stressed the importance… of the role the [normalisation deal] will play in significantly contributing to promoting stability and peace in the region,” BNA said.

Armenia recalls envoy from Israel over arms trade with Azerbaijan,

Armenia on Thursday has recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations over the alleged arms trade between regional foe Azerbaijan and Jerusalem. As fighting has erupted between Armenian and Azeri forces in recent days in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a top Azerbaijan official boasted that the country used Israeli-made drones to devastating effect.

Saudi Arabia, UAE will pressure Kuwait's new emir to normalise with Israel, report says,

Following the death of Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Kuwait is likely to face pressure from Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates to follow their lead on a number of key diplomatic issues, including normalising ties with Israel, a senior Kuwaiti royal has said. The royal, whose identity was not disclosed, told The Wall Street Journal that the Gulf state’s new leader, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, does not support unilateral normalisation. “Kuwait wants a neutral position,” the source was quoted as saying. “We won’t support and praise what is happening but we won’t criticise it either.”

How will Iran respond to closer Persian Gulf-Israel ties?,

The normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab countries in the south of Persian Gulf has raised alarm bells for Iran. While in recent years Tehran has had a strong presence of friendly forces in the vicinity of Israel, now it is Tel Aviv that is encircling Iran more than ever….Iran, unlike Israel, is more accepted by the Arab public, and in fact it enjoys much more influence. Israel, on the other hand, has gained tacit acceptance by the ruling elites in Arab states more so than their societies. Tel Aviv has been attempting hard for a long time to normalize its relations with the Arab states and replace the issue of Arab-Israeli or Muslim-Jewish conflict with an Iran-Arab conflict. However, while Israel’s actions in the Persian Gulf against Iran have not yet become a credible threat and have been limited to tightening the diplomatic and economic siege around Iran, a threat to Iran’s security in the Persian Gulf could accelerate Iran’s activities in Syria — something that makes a military conflict between regional powers in Syria more likely than ever.

From the US

A moment of reckoning for American Jewish leaders,

This Zionist consensus, which is so dominant that its adherents seem to forget that its history is relatively short, is responsible for much of the confusion over how to respond to an administration that enacts violent, racist, and authoritarian policies and incites lethal antisemitic violence, while at the same time showering Israel with one diplomatic victory after another. A second, related trend is the disproportionate influence of “mega-donors,” many of whom are politically conservative and staunchly pro-Israel, over communal priorities. The number of players on the multi-billion dollar American-Jewish philanthropic scene is contracting, with institutions increasingly beholden to their funds and ever-less representative of the communities they are supposed to serve.

Columbia University students' referendum ends with win for BDS,

Columbia University’s student body passed a referendum last week recommending that the school “divest its stocks, funds and endowment from companies that profit from or engage in the State of Israel’s acts towards Palestinians that, according to the student group Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), fall under the United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.”…In a statement on Tuesday, Columbia president Lee Bollinger reiterated his opposition to the boycott, divestment and sanctions referendum, which in November the Columbia College Student Council voted in favor of holding. Bollinger said that supporting the referendum “would contradict a long-held understanding that the university should not change its investment policies on the basis of particular views about a complex policy issue, especially when there is no consensus across the university community about that issue.”

Two American universities pass resolutions for divestment from Israel,

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the Columbia University have joined the rank of a number of other higher education institutions to divest from companies complicit with Israel’s practice of apartheid….Six days earlier, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign passed a similar resolution calling for divestment from a number of companies over their involvement in human rights abuses in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Companies mentioned in the resolution titled “Human Rights Violations in University Investments and Police Forces” included Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Company, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar and Elbit Systems. The resolution passed by 22-11 margin, with seven abstentions.

Advocacy & Stifling Dissent

In settlement with US Education Department, NYU to revise its discrimination policy,

New York University has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) following a complaint filed on behalf of a student that cited multiple anti-Semitic incidents on campus, the first agreement since U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order last December that designated anti-Semitism as a form of discrimination under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act….The agreement—highlighted in a Sept. 25 letter from Blanchard to attorneys Joel Siegal and Neal Sher, who filed the complaint on behalf of current alumnus Adela Cojab—requires the university, by Sept. 30, to revise its “Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy” to “include a statement that the university prohibits discrimination on the bases of shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics, including anti-Semitism” in accordance with the executive order, which requires U.S. government agencies to consider the widely-accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.

With funding plummeting for pro-Israel groups worldwide, Israel’s government planning aid program,

Israel’s government is planning to find funding for pro-Israel groups hit worldwide by a funding crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The survey released Thursday by the Ministry for Strategic Affairs says over 80 percent of major pro-Israel groups anticipate significant cuts in funding from donors and a 49 percent cut in grants. Two-thirds have cut budgets for 2020 and 63 percent report halving their activities. “The Ministry of Strategic Affairs has been working in recent months on a financial aid program that will provide an economic lifeline to the pro-Israel network, to ensure the change and streamlining of their activities so they continue to remain an influential and relevant source into the future,” Orit Farkash-Hacohen, the minister, said in a statement.

See also: 

Foreign Influence: How Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs Funded Lobbying & Extremism in the U.S. (FMEP webinar from October 1, 2020)

Combat Anti-Semitism Movement Hosts High Holiday Briefing with US Special Envoy to Monitor & Combat Anti-Semitism,

In order to combat the various forms of anti-Semitism, Carr outlined the key policy initiatives that have been the primary focus of his office. In particular, the Special Envoy stressed the International Holocaust Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism as being of critical importance.  “As an army officer, we are especially sensitive to the concept of defining an enemy and understanding an enemy before you can properly confront it.”…The Office of the Special Envoy is also encouraging widespread adoption of the IHRA definition around the world. “One of my top diplomatic asks when I go overseas, if a country has not adopted it, we ask that they do so…In addition to countries, we’re seeing universities, cities, in some cases sports teams, adopt it.”