Top News from Israel & Palestine: October 6, 2020

What We’re Reading

Settlements/Occupation/De Facto Annexation

Israel Set to Approve 2,500 New Settlement Homes,

The Civil Administration’s supreme planning council, the Israeli body that approves planning and construction in West Bank settlements, is set to convene on Sunday in order to give final approval for the construction of 2,500 housing units. In addition, 2,000 other units will be moved forward to the stages in which objections may be filed. Some of the units to be advanced or approved will obtain retroactive approval of illegally built structures, while others will block any expansion of adjacent Palestinian villages or towns.

Palestinian farmers face uncertain olive harvest season amid settler attacks and pandemic,

The olive harvest is a main source of livelihood for thousands of Palestinian families in the occupied territories, but they face many obstacles due to the Israeli occupation – including Israeli restrictions on land access and settler attacks.

Nine Palestinians detained in West Bank Israeli army raids,

Israeli occupation forces today detained nine Palestinians from various parts of the West Bank, according to the Palestine Prisoner’s Society (PPS). It said in a press statement that Israeli forces rounded up five Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya. Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces detained three others from the southern West Bank district of Hebron.

Palestinian shepherds attacked by Israeli settlers in the south of the occupied West Bank,

Israeli settlers today assaulted Palestinian shepherds to the east of Yatta town, in the south of the occupied West Bank, according to a local activist. Member of local popular committees, Rateb al-Jbour, said a group of settlers, under military protection, attacked Palestinian shepherds while herding their sheep in the open pastures claiming the area was a “state land”.

Israel Convicts Palestinian Activist for Facebook Posts After 'Seen Participating in Riots',

An Israeli military court convicted on Wednesday a Palestinian activist of incitement and posting symbols of an illegal organization on social media, even though Border Police said he was arrested after participaing in protests in the West Bank. A month ago, a military officer was filmed kneeling on the head of 60-year-old Khairi Hanoun during a protest in a West Bank village and the footage was widely circulated online, coinciding with the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, sparked by the death of George Floyd, an African American man who was killed after a police officer knelt on his neck….Sahar Francis, director of Addameer, a Palestinian NGO who proided Hanoun with legal representation, claimed that “his arrest is clearly political and connected to the fact that he had filed a complaint against the soldier that was filmed stepping on his neck at the protest, and to the fact that the video went viral.”

Human Rights/Violence

Opinion | Two Decades of Whitewashing Israel's Killing of 13 Young Palestinians,

As fate would have it, I entered the human rights community following the killing of 13 young Palestinians. They were shot to death by police in central Israel and the Galilee exactly 20 years ago. I eventually joined the legal team at Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which represented the families of the slain.The generation I belonged to was the “stand tall generation,” which demanded recognition of the elements of our Palestinian national identity as an integral part of our Israeli citizenship. This generation’s erect posture was suited to a legal battle waged by citizens to exert the full force of the law against those responsible for their bereavement, which was both personal and national. Twenty years after those events, my conclusion is that if anything was crushed and eroded by the force of this battle, it was our faith in the use of legal tools to obtain justice for the victims, to the point where it seems that all that remains of the upright generation are the families and the headstones on the graves of the slain.

The colonial heritage of Israel’s police,

Israel’s national police force is inherently tied to the state’s legal system and to the values of the regime under which it operates — that is, the goals of ethnic supremacy for Jews and oppressive control over Palestinians. Based on these values imprinted since its inception, the Israeli police have taken on two main roles vis-à-vis the Palestinian citizenry: suppression of any political protest against the Israeli establishment, and enforcing policies that ensure Jewish demographic, geographic, and political domination. The latter role includes, among other things, helping to carry out home demolitions and evictions of Palestinian citizens from their villages; in the Naqab/Negev, this has even led to the creation of a special police unit dedicated to demolitions and evacuations against the Palestinian Bedouin population.

Opinion | Israel's Founding Generation of Looters,

Ben-Gurion torpedoed initiatives to organize the collection of Arab property in order to allow everyone to participate, according to Raz. The entire nation is a front, the entire nation loots. In that case, that’s the major crime perpetrated against those people. Raz writes that the looting turned the looters into people with a vested interest in preventing the Arabs from returning. Because if you looted property from an Arab family, you have less motivation to have them return. With the generous assistance of Ben­-Gurion, the founding generation became a generation of looters. And we will not waste words on the looting of Arab land, which was done through official decisions. After all, the confiscation of the land is, as we know, an exalted patriotic directive.

See also: 

Haaretz: Jewish Soldiers and Civilians Looted Arab Neighbors’ Property en Masse in ’48. The Authorities Turned a Blind Eye

Haaretz: Opinion | Even Ben-Gurion Thought ‘Most Jews Are Thieves’


Israel ranks 3rd in the world for virus deaths per capita,

Israel has seen a massive resurgence of the disease over the past few weeks, with the daily toll of new COVID-19 cases reaching over 9,000 a day, prompting the government to impose a second nationwide lockdown.

Daily corona report in Palestine: 11 deaths, 491 new cases and 592 recoveries,

Of the new cases, 356 were in the West Bank, including 98 in Tulkarm and 87 in Hebron, 62 in East Jerusalem, and 73 in the Gaza Strip.

Joint List head Odeh tests positive for coronavirus,

Odeh, who heads Israel’s biggest alliance of Arab parties, made the announcement on Facebook, just hours after Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel from Likud also said she has contracted COVID-19.

Is Israel heading toward civil war?,

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s growing incitement, the deepening economic crisis, the battle over demonstrations and ultra-Orthodox coronavirus infections are taking Israel several steps closer to a civil war.

Naftali Bennett’s secret to power: He is not Netanyahu,

Six months, 1,500 pandemic fatalities and more than 800,000 newly jobless Israelis later, Netanyahu’s failed handling of the crisis is boosting the meteoric rise of his nemesis, Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing Yamina alliance.

“Peace”/Normalization/Broader Middle East

UAE, U.S. and Israel to Develop Joint Energy Strategy, Say Ministers,

The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will develop a joint strategy for greater coordination in the energy sector and look to solve energy challenges facing the Palestinians, the energy ministers said in a statement. The statement, carried on the UAE’s state news agency WAM, said the three countries would work together on renewable energy, energy efficiency, oil, natural gas resources, and related technology, as well as water desalination technology.

Chevron seals acquisition of Noble Energy, which operates in Israel gas fields,

US oil and gas conglomerate Chevron has completed its acquisition of Noble Energy, which operates two gas fields off Israel’s coast, following approval by the Texas-based company’s shareholders….The finalization of the sale was hailed by Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who called it “tremendous news for Israel’s economy” and said it would open up “huge investment opportunities for high-tech and start-ups in the energy sector.”

Israel's Foreign Minister Meets With UAE Counterpart in One-day Berlin Visit,

Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi flew to Berlin on Tuesday for a meeting with his Emirati and German counterparts, to discuss further steps in normalizing relations between the countries, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

See also: ‘Never again,’ UAE foreign minister declares at Shoah memorial with Ashkenazi

Don't let the Abraham Accords become the Arms Sales Accords,

The normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE, dubbed formally as the “Abraham Accords,” could potentially spark a new Middle East arms race. Given the multiple conflicts already raging in the region, all fueled by imported arms, that cannot be allowed to happen….New sales to the UAE and Israel will likely expand the US role as the dominant weapons supplier to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. A new report by the Center for International Policy has found that the US accounted for nearly 48% of arms deliveries to the region in the period from 2015 to 2019 — nearly three times the level achieved by the next largest supplier, Russia, and far and away ahead of China’s share of less than 3%. Far from providing greater security, these sales have directly or indirectly helped fuel the conflicts in Syria, Libya, and Yemen, as well as an indiscriminate, scorched earth counter-terror campaign conducted by the Egyptian government in the Northern Sinai….Iran will not stand still in the face of this new flood of weaponry to US allies in the region. Tehran can’t afford to match Israel or the Gulf States in traditional armaments like combat aircraft, but it can, if it so chooses, ramp up its programs for missiles and nuclear weapons, or supply more arms and training to its regional allies. The result is likely to be a new arms race at a time when wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya continue to cause immense human suffering even as they destabilize the region.

Sudanese Leaders Sharply Divided Over U.S. Push for Ties With Israel,

Sudan’s fragile interim government is sharply divided over normalizing relations with Israel, as it finds itself under intense pressure from the Trump administration to become the third Arab country to do so in short order — after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Washington’s push for Sudan-Israel ties is part of a campaign to score foreign policy achievements ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November. Sudan seemed like a natural target for the pressure campaign because of U.S. leverage — Khartoum’s desperate efforts to be removed from a U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism. Sudan can only get the international loans and aid that are essential for reviving its battered economy once that stain is removed.

Hamas leader: 'Sudan has never failed us',

Israel’s interest in Sudan isn’t just about getting new Arabs to its side in the region, although that’s clearly a prize. It is also denying a group such as Hamas a vital corridor that bridges the distance between Gaza and its main weapons provider, Iran. There were reports that Sudan asked members of the group to leave the country, though Al-Monitor’s sources said no such steps were taken by the authorities in Khartoum. “Sudan has never failed us in Palestine at any level — the resistance level, political level, diplomatic level — so therefore, definitely we feel the pain for what is happening on the foreign relations level in that beloved country,” Khaled Kadoomi, Hamas representative in Tehran, told Al-Monitor in an exclusive interview.

On Israel, Palestine, and Washington: Prince Bandar tells all in upcoming interview,

In the exclusive interview with Al Arabiya, Prince Bandar discusses the Kingdom’s position on the Palestinian cause, calling out the Palestinian leadership for its historical and ongoing “failures,” including its criticism of Gulf states following the UAE-Israel peace deal. “What I heard from Palestinian leadership in recent days was truly painful to hear. This low level of discourse is not what we expect from officials who seek to gain global support for their cause. Their transgression against the Gulf states’ leadership with this reprehensible discourse is unacceptable,” Prince Bandar told Al Arabiya. “The Palestinian cause is a just cause, but its advocates are failures. The Israeli cause is unjust, but its advocates are successful. That sums up the events of the last 70 or 75 years,” he said.

Exclusive: Intricate Hack Against Israeli Crypto Leaders; 'Mossad Investigating',

About 20 Israeli cryptocurrency executives were asked to pay digital currency after their phones had been hacked and their identity was stolen in a unique and concerning cyberattack that took place at the beginning of September. The failed attack, being reported here for the first time, was carried out by a sophisticated team that may have been state-sponsored. It also involved a major telecom company, a cyber firm called Pandora and perhaps even the Israeli Shin Bet. We can also reveal for the first time that the Mossad and Israel’s National Cyber Security Authority were involved in the investigation.

Armenian envoy expects Israel will halt arms sales to Azerbaijan amid conflict,

President Reuven Rivlin spoke on the phone to his Armenian counterpart Armen Sarkissian on Monday, amid anger in the capital Yerevan over Israeli arms sales to Azerbaijan as a border dispute between the countries flares. Shortly after the call, Armenia’s Ambassador to Israel Armen Smbatyan told Armenian news site that Yerevan was in talks with Jerusalem and believes weapons sales could be halted in the coming days.

See also: YNet:Israel under diplomatic fire over arms to Azerbaijan

Palestinian business leader hopes UAE, Bahrain will press Israel to stop settlements,

A top Palestinian business executive said on Monday that new Gulf Arab ties with Israel, condemned by Palestinian leaders, could also be an opportunity to apply fresh pressure to halt Jewish settlement in occupied land. Bashar Masri, a Palestinian-American who runs two of the Palestinians’ largest holding companies, said the Palestinians must find a way to turn agreements Israel struck last month with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain into “a positive thing for us”.

From the U.S. / U.S. Election

If Biden Wins, Adelson and Evangelicals Are Out, AIPAC’s Back and J Street’s in With a Bang,

A Biden victory would get AIPAC back in the game, albeit with a daunting twist….A Biden victory would instantly remove Adelson and the evangelicals from their current positions of supreme influence and give AIPAC a shot at landing the leading role on center stage. It is far from clear, however, that it is the top candidate for the role: Not only has J Street cornered the market of Israel-supporting Democratic moderates who detest Netanyahu and his policies, but AIPAC will also have to work hard to regain the trust and favor of more mainstream centrist Democrats, as well as top foreign policy officials in a future Biden administration. They still show the scars from the bitter 2015 battle over the Iran nuclear deal and still bear its grudges.

Pompeo accused of mixing politics and diplomacy as election nears,

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s pre-election speeches in battleground states are drawing increased scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers, who say his remarks cross a line that has traditionally separated foreign policy from domestic politics….Pompeo’s public remarks have drawn more attention since he addressed the Republican National Convention in August, talking to delegates by videotape from a rooftop of the King David Hotel overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City on a hastily scheduled trip to the Middle East.

Pro-Israel groups audition Dems seeking top congressional foreign policy seat,

The three U.S. House of Representatives Democrats seeking the influential chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs Committee are meeting with donors and staff of pro-Israel groups and asking them to lobby the party leadership. Reps. Brad Sherman of California, Gregory Meeks of New York and Joaquin Castro of Texas have or will soon have Zoom meetings with the Democratic Majority for Israel, a group that embraces pro-Israel policies close to the establishment pro-Israel community, as well as with J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group.

Lawfare/Stifling Dissent/Free speech

Student startup gives pro-Israel advocates a unified voice,

It was in order to protect the Jewish state from the less tangible – but no less harmful – threats of online misinformation during wartime that Yarden Ben Yosef established ACT.IL, a dynamic online community working together to positively influence public opinion when it comes to Israel. But, as it turns out, the battles are always raging against propaganda machines such as BDS (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movements)….Under the auspices of the Israeli American Council (IAC) and the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), and with the guidance of Prof. Uriel Reichman and former Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor, ACT.IL has quickly turned into one of the fastest growing Israel advocacy groups ever. The media rooms in Israel and the US mimic those used by the Israel Defense Forces and help staff coordinate and work on the local level to maximize reach. The initiative – which looks and runs just like any other tech startup commonly found in Israel – has been so effective that in 2015, Time Magazine rated one of ACT.IL’s campaigns as among the top 10 most influential that year.

Civil Society Organizations call on Zoom to Stop Shrinking Space for Freedom of Expression,

Activists and civil society and digital rights organizations warn against the growing dangers for freedom of expression and political association online. On September 23, 2020, Zoom, Facebook and YouTube censored an event organized by San Francisco State University’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicity and Diasporas Studies program, who had invited Leila Khaled to speak at their online event, a well known Palestinian political figure. The event would have aired freely and fairly if it had not been targeted by several anti-Palestinian legal and campaigning organizations in support of the Israeli occupation state well known for their attempts to silence Palestinian freedom of expression online. Very few Zoom meetings have ever been shut down, and this is one of the first known account shut downs related to Palestine and Palestinians…The Human Rights Council at the United Nations in document A/HRC/32/L.20 has affirmed that human rights apply equally online as they do offline. As it becomes increasingly essential to access digital platforms in order to exercise fundamental human rights and freedoms, commercial and technology companies must uphold the highest human rights standards and not succumb to outside pressure to censor legitimate political voices and freedom of expression.

Israel’s Top 50 Christian Allies,

In honor of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), the Israel Allies Foundation is pleased to publish its first annual list of Israel’s Top 50 Christian Allies. Christian leaders who were selected to be a part of this exclusive list conveyed their deep love and support for the State of Israel which stems from their faith. From Pastors, to former politicians, organizational leaders and businessmen, take a look at the leading defenders and advocates for Israel worldwide for 2020.

PA/PLO/Palestinian Politics

Promising Change or Clinging to Power? Behind the Palestinian Leaders' Vow to Hold Elections,

It’s difficult not to reach the conclusion that now, as in the past, the verbal promise that’s been reported on all the news programs is a substitute for the act itself. Building up expectations for an imminent election is a way to preserve the legitimacy of the Palestinian nomenklatura – the political elite and the higher ranks of the civil service, which reserve jobs for their own relatives. Substituting lofty rhetoric for action is the nomenklatura’s way to guarantee its status and to protect against internal political shocks that are potentially great enough to threaten it. Without consciously wanting to, the nomenklatura of both Fatah and Hamas preserve the status quo; they perpetuate the reality of the Palestinian enclaves because they are incapable of preventing Israel from advancing its project of land grabs and colonization, with giant strides….No doubt, the People wants reconciliation. But in the hands of the PA, talk of reconciliation is also a cardboard sword that it waves in the face of Israel from time to time. Today, especially, it is difficult to impress Israel and Israelis with these stagnant “developments” in the Palestinian arena. Nevertheless, one sign of interest has come from the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service: On Friday they again arrested Hassan Yousef, a Hamas leader in the West Bank. Whenever any reconciliation process begins, Israel makes a point of arresting the Hamas people who are involved in it.

Palestinian Authority targets Dahlan’s supporters in West Bank,

Palestinian security services in the West Bank have been clamping down in recent days on supporters of the so-called Democratic Reform Current led by dismissed Fatah leader Mohammad Dahlan, who is based in the United Arab Emirates. An unspecified number of the movement’s supporters were arrested during the past few days….A Palestinian security source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that those arrested were suspected of arms possession or transfer of “illegal and illegitimate” funds to the West Bank….On Sept. 27, the local Safa news agency quoted an anonymous source as saying the arrests were made based on instructions issued by President Mahmoud Abbas. The source indicated that the Palestinian Intelligence Service carried out dozens of missions — the nature of which was not mentioned — as part of ongoing monitoring operations of the Democratic Reform Current’s activities, in the wake of the normalization agreement between the UAE and Israel.

Why Hamas can’t control arms proliferation in Gaza,

In light of the ongoing proliferation of unauthorized weapons in Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip, human rights centers and institutions sounded the alarm following the escalation of violence and disruption of civil peace. Meanwhile, the Hamas movement that rules Gaza seems unable to control the spread of weapons among civilians. In late September, firearms and white weapons were used in several family feuds that erupted in various governorates in the Gaza Strip. These resulted in casualties among citizens, especially among women and children.


This Arab-Israeli ‘Seed of Peace’ Became One of the Second Intifada’s First Victims,

Asel Asleh liked to call himself ‘the peacemaker,’ but his death at the hands of the Israeli police in October 2000 almost proved fatal for the respected Seeds of Peace organization he was so involved in.

Gaza women use social media to reveal domestic abuse,

In the Gaza Strip, an increasing number of women and girls have been resorting to social media to share their experience with domestic abuse. Five campaigns have been launched by activists within two months to fight against domestic abuse. Battered women write their stories on social media, and activists then share them and work to protect the women’s rights and rid them of the violence they are subject to. This blunt openness about domestic abuse is alien to the Palestinian society, which considers women’s issues as sensitive….The rates of violence against women recently escalated in the Gaza Strip, with the death of 11 women since the beginning of this year, according to the 2020 Domestic Violence Survey by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. The survey found that 29% of women in Palestine face a form of violence during their lifetime. “The Gaza governorate registered the highest rate of violence by husbands against married and divorced women,” registering a rate of 41%, according to the survey.

Domestic Violence Reports Triple Amid Israel's Second COVID Lockdown,

Since the coronavirus erupted, there have been almost three times as many calls to the domestic violence hotline as there were during the same months last year….According to official ministry data, the hotline received 6,615 calls from March through September of this year, compared to 2,286 during the same months last year. Sources involved in the issue said the number had exceeded their most pessimistic predictions.