Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 21, 2021

What We’re Reading

Prison Break & Fallout

Collective Punishment as Israel Conducts Mass Arrests, including the Family Members of Prisoner Escapees Arrested in Jenin, High School Student Shot by Israeli forces is Hospitalised,

Such acts may further amount to an act of persecution against the protected population, when committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population. Given the extensive arrests and the geographical scope spanning from Jenin to Jerusalem, this may well fall within the purview of a crime against humanity. Notably, Article 7(1)(h) of the Rome Statute criminalises persecution as a crime against humanity at the International Criminal Court. Further the arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of Palestinians as members of a racial group amounts to an act inhumane act of apartheid, also a crime against humanity prohibited by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of ApartheidAl-Haq calls on the international community to intervene to ensure the humane treatment of all prisoners and for third States to work collectively to dismantle Israel’s illegal apartheid regime and the system of mass incarceration of Palestinians it employs to segregate the population, in continuance of its denial of the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people as a whole.

West Bank city of Jenin roils as Israel prepares for possible escalation,

“Jamal Huwail, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Jenin refugee camp, told Al-Monitor that anger in the West Bank is cumulative, due to the lack of political horizon, more settlements, ongoing arrests and executions, and the Judaization of Jerusalem, but that the prisoner issue increased anger at Israel. Huwail stressed that the situation is very serious, whether in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, and an escalation could happen. “There is no comparison between the capabilities of the Israeli army and those of the resistance,” he said, “but the will of the people and fighters who have been going through hard times cannot be broken. They do not fear any threat.” “The Israeli army is ready to storm the camp, awaiting a political decision, Yet, the resistance fighters in the camp will make them pay for it. Any price, no matter how low it is, will shake the Bennett government. This army cannot stand the killing of one or two soldiers,” he said. Huwail, who took part in the battle of Jenin camp in 2002 and was imprisoned for seven years, said, “The current generation in the camp does not have any fears, and only understands the language of force. The proof is that they daily go to the al-Jalama checkpoint and clash with the army. They are not waiting for [the army to go to] the camp.” “The army may storm the camp, but there will be a cost for Israel to pay and losses will be inflicted on its army,” he said. “Jenin will resist any foolishness that may be made. Gaza will not allow such a thing to happen and will join the front line. There is a possibility that Hezbollah also joins the confrontation as well. Based on that, Israel will find itself facing an open battle.””

Six Detainees Continue Hunger Strike Despite Deterioration Conditions,

“Hasan abed-Rabbo, the media consultant of the Detainees’ Committee, stated that the six detainees are facing serious complications, including pain, fatigue, mineral deficiency, and dizziness.”

Palestinians Demand Red Cross To Protect The Detainees,

“Hundreds of Palestinians held Monday, various sit-in protests in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) offices in various parts of the occupied West Bank, in solidarity with Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, and demanding ending the escalating violations against them. The sit-in protests were organized by various Palestinian national and Islamic factions, and many institutions that defend the detainees and fight for their rights. The protesters called on the ICRS to intervene and provide the needed protection to the Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, especially the six detainees who were captured after managing to escape from Gilboa’ high-security prison and are currently subjugated to serious violations, including torture. They also called for pressuring Israel into ending its illegal and arbitrary Administrative Detention policies, holding hundreds of detainees captive without charges or trial, and to ensure that the ailing detainees, especially those with life-threatening medical conditions, and the hunger-striking detainees, receive the needed specialized medical care.”

West Bank Palestinians Surprised as Jailbreakers' Manhunt Ends in Relative Ease,

“Residents of Jenin are used to waking up at night to the sound of shooting and explosions when an arrest takes place in their city or in the adjacent refugee camp. But on Sundayת they slept soundly through the night only to be wakened by the surprising news that two prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison were arrested in the city – with barely any resistance. Many in the West Bank were afraid during the past two weeks that they would be forced to bear the consequences of the escape of the prisoners, with Israeli security forces holding extensive searches for them. The same was true in Jenin. Since the escape there has been intensive movement of Israeli security forces on the perimeter of the city and in the surrounding villages.”

As Sand From Digging a Tunnel 'Clogged Up the Entire Prison,' Palestinian Inmates Decided to Escape Earlier,

“The group of Palestinian prisoners that escaped Israel’s Gilboa Prison two weeks ago did so earlier than they had planned, as sand from the tunnel they were digging began blocking prison pipes and they feared they would be discovered, according to their investigation this week after bring recaptured. The six prisoners who were afraid that they would be caught when the sand they tried to hide in the drainage pipes started causing a suspiciously large number of clogs. “It reached a point where the entire prison was clogged up because of the mud in the drains, and people turned on a tap and sand came out,” a senior official with knowledge of the investigation told Haaretz.”


Hamas presents ‘roadmap’ for prisoner swap with Israel,

“Hamas has presented mediators with a “clear road map” for a prisoner exchange agreement with Israel, Zaher Jabarin, member of the Hamas political bureau,” said on Monday. Jabarin did not provide details about the alleged road map. He also did not name the mediators involved in the contacts to reach a prisoner exchange agreement, although it is widely believed that the Egyptians are leading efforts to secure a deal between Israel and Hamas. Jabarin said that the Hamas leadership and its armed wing “pay special attention to the prisoners’ issue, especially those serving lengthy sentences.””

Appeal Court of The Hague to hear case against Israeli Generals,

“The Appeal Court of The Hague is scheduled to hold a hearing on Thursday on the case brought by Ismail Ziada against the former Chief of General Staff of the Israeli armed forces, Benny Gantz, and former Commander of the Israeli Air Force, Amir Eshel, for the bombing of the Ziada family home in Gaza. Ziada argues that the District Court of The Hague erred in its first-instance decision to offer functional immunity to the defendants, as such immunity is not enjoyed for war crimes. Ziada, who is of Palestinian origin, is seeking to hold the defendants accountable for the targeted attack on the Ziada family home on 20 July 2014 which resulted in the death of Ziada’s 70-year-old mother, three brothers, his sister-in-law, a 12-year-old nephew and a visiting friend. Israel’s 50-day war on Gaza between July and August 2014 left over 2000 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians, thousands injured and hundreds of homes destroyed. Ziada contends that the attack was a violation of international humanitarian law and constituted a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights principles.”

Gaza opens hospital ward to tackle covid spread,

“The ministry renewed its call on citizens to quickly go to vaccination centres to receive the inoculation, stressing that the vaccines are available in sufficient quantities, are safe and provide the highest degree of protection”

2 Gazans briefly cross into Israel,

“Two Palestinians tried to cross the Gaza border into Israel on Monday, but returned back into the coastal enclave after spotting an Israel Defense Force squad heading to the scene, the army said. It was the second infiltration attempt in three days. On Saturday morning, three Palestinians were detained by IDF soldiers after trying to infiltrate into southern Israel.”

Jerusalem & the West Bank

Palestinians fear Israel’s decision to seize thousands of dunums of land near Bethlehem is for settlement expansion,

“The Israeli occupation authorities today issued an order to seize thousands of dunums of Palestinian-owned land in the village of Kisan, south of the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, according to a local source, raising concern that the decision is intended for the expansion of an illegal colony in that area. Hasan Breijieh, from the Wall and Settlements Resistance Commission, told WAFA that Israel claimed the takeover of the land, estimated at around 50,000 dunums, located southeast of the village, is going to be turned into a nature reserve. However, he added, this decision is actually intended to facilitate seizing more Palestinian lands in the village to expand the nearby Abi HaNahal settlement.”

Jewish Israelis flock to Temple Mount in greater numbers,

“Hundreds of Israeli Jews are expected to ascend the Temple Mount compound today and throughout the week until Sept. 27, celebrating the Sukkot holiday. Security is being beefed up for the week across Israel and especially around the Temple Mount compound, but the site will remain open with the usual visiting hours for Jews. The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Jewish tradition. It is also one of the holiest sites for Muslims, housing Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, Haram al-Sharif. It is the most sensitive and volatile point in Israel and the site of many conflicts over its history.”

Center wins legal decision equating East Jerusalem residents’ health rights with Israeli citizens,

“After a long legal process since 2016 the Society of St. Yves – Catholic Center for Human Rights represented by Adv- Nasarat Dakkour was able to succeed in an appeal on a law that discriminates against the Palestinians with family unification fees to get health insurance. The supreme court has agreed on St. Yves’ appeal and issued new regulations for the Israeli Health Government to amend its regulations in order to equate the first payment imposed on Palestinians with Jerusalem ID versus Palestinians holders of Israeli Passport for spouses with family Unification fees of health insurance.”

Palestinian Politics

Poll finds nearly 80% of Palestinians want Abbas to resign,

“A new poll has found that nearly 80% of Palestinians want President Mahmoud Abbas to resign, reflecting widespread anger over the death of an activist in security forces’ custody and a crackdown on protests over the summer. The survey released Tuesday found support for Abbas’ Hamas rivals remained high months after the 11-day Gaza war in May, when the Islamic militant group was widely seen by Palestinians as having scored a victory against a far more powerful Israel while the Western-backed Abbas was sidelined. The latest poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 45% of Palestinians believe Hamas should lead and represent them, while only 19% said Abbas’ secular Fatah deserved that role, showing only a slight shift in favor of Fatah over the last three months.”

Gaza factions reject PA call to hold local elections,

“Palestinian factions in the besieged Gaza Strip have rejected the Palestinian Authority’s call to hold municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, months after PA President Mahmoud Abbas cancelled legislative and presidential elections. The Palestinian Freedom Movement described the government’s call to hold municipal elections without consensus as “an insistence” on dominating the political scene in Palestine and belittling the Palestinian people and the community. “How could we believe that the head of the PA [Mahmoud Abbas] wants elections when he has turned against national efforts and cancelled the elections that were scheduled to take place last May, and now he is dividing the elections for abhorrent partisan interests,” the movement said in a statement. It went on to describe the announcement as an attempt by Abbas to occupy the Palestinian arena and portray to the world that he wants to achieve democracy.”

Israeli Politics & Diplomacy

Bennett among world leaders to address UN General Assembly,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will address the UN General Assembly that begins hearing world leaders on Tuesday in its annual conference, with a formidable agenda of escalating crises to tackle, including the still raging COVID-19 pandemic and a relentlessly warming planet. This will be Bennett’s first major international speech and will deal with matters of Israeli national security with an emphasis on the dangers to the Middle East and beyond, which are posed by Iran.”

Israeli, Swedish Foreign Ministers Hold First Call in Seven Years in Effort to Mend Ties,

“Foreign Minister Yair Lapid wrote on Twitter that he spoke with his Swedish counterpart, Ann Linde, and thanked her for “Sweden’s strong and solid commitment to the security of Israel and her recognition in the course of our conversation of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.”…Sweden’s relations with Israel have been strained since the Social Democratic-led government in 2014 recognized Palestinian statehood. Its former foreign minister’s comments in recent years concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drew angry responses from Israeli officials.”

Bennett to speak at US Jewish Federation meet as gov’t ups outreach to Diaspora,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will speak at the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual conference next month, as his government seeks to expand its engagement with Diaspora Jewry. Bennett will address the virtual General Assembly on October 3rd and is expected to speak about the the “major challenges facing Israel, the rising tide of antisemitism and the relationship between the Jewish state and North American Jewry,” in a conversation with Jewish Federations Chair Mark Wilf, JFNA said in a press release on Monday. Prominent US politicians from both parties will also attend the GA, which will include a performance by Israel’s Eurovision star Eden Alene, said the JFNA, which is an umbrella group representing 146 Jewish Federations and over 300 Network communities in North America.”

Bennett Taps New Head of Israel's Public Diplomacy and Media, After 7 Years of Vacancy,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett named Elad Tene, vice president and head of digital content at the Kan public broadcaster, as the new head of Israel’s public diplomacy efforts – a position that has been vacant since 2015. The Prime Minister’s Office said Sunday that the appointment would be brought before the cabinet for approval in a forthcoming meeting. The Public Diplomacy Directorate is a division within the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for Israel’s efforts to explain and defend its policies to the world.”

Bennett-Lapid Government, the First 100 Days: Arguments, Disputes – and Compromises,

“Arguments and disputes have always been common in coalition governments (and especially if the coalition has only 61 votes in the Knesset), but in the present government they seem to be far more common. Although the government is functioning, the state budget will probably pass, and relations among the ministers are good – all that comes at the price of compromise. And not only one. Naftali Bennett, Yair Lapid, Merav Michaeli, Avigdor Lieberman and their fellow government ministers have discovered that the difference between them is greater than the 20 percent representing the conflict with the Palestinians – it can be found in almost every decision. Meanwhile it ends in many compromises. Haaretz mapped the decisions made by the government in its first 100 days and answered the questions: Who vs. whom? What was decided? And how did the story end – at least for the time being?”

Israel’s Gantz keeps eye on premiership,

“Almost three years after he first entered the political fray, Gantz is proving that he has learned how to maneuver through Israel’s political minefield. He is aware of his strength in such an ideologically polarized coalition and of his seniority on security affairs, especially in a new and inexperienced cabinet.”

Analysis | Netanyahu Tried Mocking Biden, Only to Find Out the Joke's on Him,

“If Netanyahu and his social media minions were indeed behind the original “Sleepy Joe” video, and Sunday’s moment was his way of celebrating it, the move seems to have backfired badly. Even his diehard supporters failed to rally around the joke, and multiple critics on Twitter blasted it as “sad” and the move of a “kindergartener” or an “obnoxious 12-year-old.” Members of the current coalition responded by pointing out that it was the leader of the opposition offending the U.S. president, not the sitting government in Israel. Labor MK Emilie Moatti tweeted: “the official State of Israel supports the United States, appreciates and honors its President, Mr. Biden.””

'48 Israel & Palestinian Citizens of Israel

Man Shot Dead, Others Wounded at Wedding in Central Israel,

“One person was killed and five injured after a man opened fire at a wedding in the central city of Taibeh, as gun violence continues to rage in Israel’s Arab communities. Alaa Sarsour, 25, died from his wounds after being evacuated to Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava in critical condition. Another man was critically injured after being shot in his neck and is receiving medical treatment. One guest sustained moderate injuries to his limbs, and three others suffered mild injuries. Police arrived at the wedding and are looking for the gunman, who fled the scene. According to police statements, the shooting is suspected to be criminally motivated.”

Car Ramming Kills Israeli Police Volunteer Looking for Undocumented Palestinian Workers,

“A 32-year-old volunteer with the police force was killed Tuesday after a car ran into him and a police officer in the northern city of Nahariya, during an operation to find undocumented Palestinian workers. Both men were taken to the Western Galilee Hospital in the city, where the volunteer was pronounced dead. He was later identified as Hosam Zghaiyir, a resident of the predominantly Druze town of Yarka. The officer, 31, was moderately wounded. Police ruled out a political motive a few hours after the incident. A suspect, a 44-year-old resident of the town of Arraba who police say drives Palestinian workers regularly, was detained a short while after the incident at a nearby police roadblock. His brother, who police say drove workers from the West Bank to Nahariya on Tuesday morning, was also detained. The two own a construction business together. A medic at the scene said the two were hit near a construction site. The policemen were called to the area by residents who complained about the noise from the site, and only then, according to police sources, they planned to inspect the workers’ permits.”

Man Shot Dead in Bedouin Village Is 87th Arab Victim of Violence in Israel This Year,

“A man was shot to death Monday, the latest casualty of a feud between criminals in the Bedouin village of Zarzir in northern Israel, according to a police statement. Fadi Grifat, 24, was taken to Haemek Hospital in Afula in critical condition, and later succumbed to his wounds. So far, 87 Arabs have lost their lives to violent crime in Israel this year, with 72 of the victims being Israeli citizens, according to the non-profit organization the Abraham Initiatives. In addition, six Israeli Arabs have been killed by police fire. Twelve of the victims were women and 46 were under the age of 30. Of the 87 cases this year, 70 involved firearms.”

The U.S.

Biden’s pick for ambassador to Israel to appear before Senate for confirmation,

“US President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as the next ambassador to Israel will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a confirmation hearing on Wednesday. Tom Nides will be among nine Biden administration nominees to face the Foreign Relations Committee, according to the panel’s schedule published on Monday. Nides is not expected to face significant opposition to being confirmed and has been holding talks with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in preparation for the hearing, sources familiar told The Times of Israel.”

Arab MKs urge US to reopen consulate in East Jerusalem,

“The Joint List of Arab members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, has urged Washington to reopen the US Consulate in occupied East Jerusalem, despite the objections of the Israeli government. The Joint List sent its request in a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “We are respectfully addressing you concerning the reopening of the US General Consulate in Jerusalem,” the MKs said. Despite opposition from Israel, they added, it is important to stake such a step “to create the right conditions for a meaningful peace process.” Moreover, reopening the consulate will be in line with Washington’s “stated position that Israelis and Palestinians should enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, dignity, and prosperity.””