Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 24, 2021

What We’re Reading

Human Rights/Occupation/Annexation/Apartheid

Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli forces in the West Bank,

Israeli security forces have shot dead a Palestinian man in the West Bank during a protest against settlement expansion, the Palestinian health ministry said. The victim was killed after being hit in the head by live fire on Friday, the ministry said, in the flashpoint town of Beita, a scene of regular demonstrations against Israeli settlement expansion.” For more on Beita, see “A Night with Palestine’s Defenders of the Mountain” (The Nation) 


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Injuries reported as Israeli settlers attack Hebron-district village,

Israeli settlers today attacked Palestinians in Susya village, south of Hebron city, as a European Union delegation made his way to the village, according to WAFA correspondent. She said that settlers, under military protection, assaulted the villagers of Susya as EU representatives was visiting the southern West Bank village, inflicting bruises and cuts across the bodies of several villagers. She added that Israeli soldiers held the EU delegation and declared the village a closed military zone.”

The Illegal Settler Outpost Has Running Water. Its Palestinian Neighbors Don't. This Is Apartheid at Its Starkest,

“Combatants for Peace, an Israeli-Palestinian NGO, chose to come here last Friday, not because this is the only place in the South Hebron Hills that is crying out for water (it isn’t), but because the apartheid here cries out to the heavens more starkly than elsewhere. Unlimited water and a hookup to the electricity grid for the unauthorized outpost of Avigayil, which also has a large, recreational wading pool, and opposite it the compound of the Hamamdi family, which clings to earth that belongs to Halimi’s parents, with no hookup to water or electricity.”

Opinion | Israel Is Crushing My Right to Protest Its Occupation,

“It is one thing to fear violent individuals, such as some of the settlers. But it is quite another thing to fear the legitimate instruments of the state, my state, be they soldiers or police, that is, an arm of the state brought to use against peaceful Israelis. An arm of the state brought against Israelis who, having been combat officers in the past, today advocate, teach and practice non-violence.”

The U.S. Scene: Funding the Iron Dome

House votes 420-9 to advance Iron Dome funding,

“After a spat over Iron Dome funding earlier this week, the House of Representatives voted 420-9, with two present, to provide $1 billion to Israel to replenish its missile defense system.

House leadership initially added the Iron Dome supplemental funding to a stopgap government funding bill on Tuesday, but removed it after several left-wing Democrats said they would oppose the legislation because of its inclusion. All Republicans opposed the stopgap funding bill, with or without Iron Dome funding. Following pressure from a group of pro-Israel Democrats, House leadership announced a separate vote on Iron Dome funding on Thursday afternoon.


Eight Democrats — Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Andre Carson (D-IN), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Marie Newman (D-IL), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Jesús Garcia (D-IL) and Cori Bush (D-MO) — voted against the Iron Dome supplement. Republican Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) also voted no. Massie, a staunch libertarian, generally opposes foreign aid regardless of recipients….Two Democrats, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Hank Johnson (D-GA), voted present. Ocasio-Cortez had initially voted against the funding, but changed her vote shortly before voting closed.”


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Rashida Tlaib denounces Iron Dome funding bill for ‘apartheid’ Israel,

““I will not support an effort to enable war crimes and human rights abuses and violence. We cannot be talking only about Israelis need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system, and are dying from what Human Rights Watch has said are war crimes,” the Palestinian-American lawmaker says. “The bill claims to be, quote, a ‘replenishment’ for weapons apartheid Israel used in a crisis it manufactured when it attacked worshippers at one of the most holiest Islamic locations, the al-Aqsa Mosque, committing again numerous war crimes,” she claims. “Israel is an apartheid regime — [these are] not my words, but the words of Human Rights Watch and the words of Israel’s own human rights organization B’Tselem,” she adds. “I urge my colleagues to please stand with me in supporting human rights for all.””  See here for video of Rep. Tlaib’s speech. 

No, Iron Dome Doesn’t Save Palestinian Lives ,

While much of the discourse surrounding the controversy over Iron Dome (the eventual passage of funding for which was never really in doubt) is mired in hysterics and hyperbole, some have put forward a more rational case for providing additional funding for the system. One of the standard arguments advanced in recent days is that Iron Dome is crucial not only for saving Israeli lives but is equally important (perhaps even more so) for saving Palestinian lives. This claim has been echoed by numerous American and Israeli analysts and even Members of Congress, and seems to have been accepted by a number of journalists as well. But is it actually true? … While Iron Dome may have saved Israeli lives, there is no evidence that it has done anything to save Palestinian lives or minimize the scale of destruction on the Palestinian side — and it may actually have done the opposite.”

"The level of dehumanization of Palestinians...",

Watching the deliberations in the House to pass H.R. 5323, the bill to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome. The level of dehumanization of Palestinians, of Gaza, by Democrats and Republicans alike, and the amount of misinformation and misrepresentation of reality is just mind-boggling.” Read the whole thread here. 

Leading Israeli TV host rails against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,

“TV presenter Avri Gilad harshly criticized Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and even said he wished for her death on his show on Channel 13.”

"...that's anti-Semitism" ,

Rep. Ted Deutsch in response to Rep. Tlaib: “”I cannot allow one of my colleagues to stand on floor of House and label Jewish democratic state of Israel an apartheid state…my colleague who just besmirched our ally…when there’s no place on map for one Jewish state, that’s anti-Semitism”

Opinion: When you vote to let terrorists kill Jews, that is antisemitism,

“If you oppose funding for the Iron Dome, it means you want to deny Israel the ability to stop those rocket attacks. It means you want Hamas to retain the capability to kill Israeli civilians in their homes. And it exposes the lie that these progressive representatives are not antisemities. When you vote to let terrorists kill Jews, that is antisemitism.

On the weaponization of antisemitism ,

“As members of Congress – from both parties – gleefully pile on @RepRashida for using the word “apartheid” on the House floor to describe Israeli policies, great time to review who else has used the word in this context” (Read the whole thread)

The U.S. Scene beyond the Iron Dome

Progressive Dems introduce bill they say aims at keeping 2-state solution alive,

“The Two-State Solution Act introduced by Rep. Andy Levin with over a dozen co-sponsors aims “to preserve conditions for, and improve the likelihood of, a two-state solution that secures Israel’s future as a democratic state and a national home for the Jewish people, a viable, democratic Palestinian state.” If passed, the bill orders the US government to take a series of steps aimed at limiting Israeli entrenchment in the West Bank. The bill bars US defense aid from use in acts by Israel to expand its control beyond the Green Line, through moves such as settlement building, demolitions of Palestinian homes, or evictions of Palestinian residents. It also mandates strict oversight of how Israel spends defense assistance more broadly. The legislation says the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip are all occupied territories and should be referred to as such in all official US policies, documents and communications.” 


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The Democrats Trying to Make the Two-state Solution Relevant Again in Congress,

“More than two dozen House Democrats on Thursday introduced perhaps the most thorough piece of legislation to date aimed at detailing how the United States can help preserve and push for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. The brainchild of Rep. Andy Levin, the Two-State Solution Act is meant to both accelerate progress toward such a solution while discouraging actions that put it out of reach. While unlikely to pass, it is the most crystallized vision presented by lawmakers who consider themselves supporters of Israel while remaining openly critical of the occupation.”

Two bills in Congress reflect split among Democrats — and Jewish Democrats — on Israel funding,

“There were two groups of Jewish Democrats working Capitol Hill this week, each leveraging their Jewishness to advance what each believed to be a critical remedy after Israel’s conflict with Hamas in May. Those remedies were radically different. One group, led by Kathy Manning, D-N.C., wanted more unconditional aid for Israel’s defense. The other, led by Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., wanted strictures on how Israel spends U.S. defense assistance. Each group was backed by a lobby that claims to speak on behalf of the Jewish community. And each hoped to capture headlines Thursday with major legislation.”

In Washington, ex-Jerusalem mayor lobbies against consulate reopening,

Likud MK Nir Barkat spent Thursday in Washington, DC, lobbying American lawmakers from both parties against reopening a diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem that US President Donald Trump closed in 2019….he argued, the move would signal US legitimacy for the Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem, which they envision as the capital of their future state.”

Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Prisons

Israel Accepts to Hold Talks with Hamas on Prisoner Exchange Deal,

“The Kan public broadcaster quoted on Wednesday high-ranking Egyptian sources as saying that Cairo has lately received a “surprising and unprecedented” message from Israel to activate the prisoner swap deal talks with Hamas. “Israeli officials informed the Egyptian mediator, over the phone, about the possibility of holding special sessions to discuss the prisoner swap deal, and the roadmap that Hamas had recently proposed,” the Hebrew channel said.”


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Israel suspends Gilboa Prison chief after prisoners escape,

“Israeli prisons authorities yesterday temporarily suspended the head of the Gilboa Prison, Freddy Ben-Sheetrit, after six Palestinian inmates dug their way out of the high security jail earlier this month.” See also “‘I will not be a scapegoat’: Prisons head said to reject calls to resign” (Times of Israel)

A Prison Break Liberates the Palestinian Political Imagination,

“Though it is too early to predict the long-term political effects of the escape, there is no doubt that the prison break has pierced Israel’s seemingly impenetrable security and surveillance network. This network, which anthropologist Jeff Halper has termed a “matrix of control,” is pervasive in Palestinian life, determining where people can live, what schools they can attend, and, in some cases, whom they can marry. Evading such all-encompassing domination, even briefly, was worth the price, according to the prisoners themselves. Escapee Mohammed Al Ardeh’s lawyer said his client wandered Israel, trying to feel a sense of liberation—both from prison and from daily life under occupation. “I went around the areas of Palestine occupied in 1948,” he is said to have told his interrogators. “I was looking for my freedom and to see my mother.””

Jailbreak shines light on mass incarceration of Palestinians,

“Nearly every Palestinian has a loved one who has been locked up in that system at some point, and imprisonment is widely seen as one of the most painful aspects of life under Israeli rule….Many are jailed for violations of the sweeping Israeli military orders that govern the 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. Those include belonging to a banned organization and taking part in demonstrations, which are generally considered illegal. Hundreds of minors are arrested every year, mostly charged with stone-throwing….Palestinians are rarely released on bail, and most believe it’s futile to contest charges in military trials that can drag on for months or years. Instead, most cases are settled by plea bargains, contributing to an estimated conviction rate of more than 95%.”

​​Opinion | Yes, These Palestinians Are Freedom Fighters,

“Are their ends just? There is nothing more just. Are the means they adopt to achieve them criminal, cruel and shocking? Certainly so. But they are no less cruel than launching an attack drone on impoverished children playing on a Gaza beach. The six escapees from Gilboa Prison would have preferred to stage a drone attack with a joystick rather than a suicide attack. They would have preferred to attack an army base instead of innocent civilians if they had the sophisticated weapons required to do that. Should they be able to carry weapons? No less than the IDF.”

Opinion | Murderers, Not Freedom Fighters,

“What is it that brings a person, whether they are Israeli, British, Egyptian or Norwegian, to praise murderers? To take joy in knowing that they were free?”

Lawfare & the Weaponization of Antisemitism

Thursday Newsletter: Jewish Currents on the new antisemitism survey,

“the survey—like other antisemitism reports I’ve written about—conflates both straightforward antisemitic comments (jokes that Jews are “greedy” or “cheap” or “untrustworthy”) with anti-Zionist speech. A Jewish student who is “supportive of Israel” is likely to consider the statement “Zionism is a form of white supremacy” to be antisemitism; other Jewish students might disagree. This study lists all of the aforementioned types of comments—alongside other offenses, like uses of the term “Jewish American Princess”—as examples of verbal antisemitism….I also found the study hard to parse, because many of the results described not just acts of antisemitism students had personally experienced but acts they were “aware of,” which could include events they had experienced, witnessed, or simply heard about. While the occurrence of antisemitic incidents is troubling regardless of frequency, and students’ awareness of any such episodes certainly impacts a school’s climate, lumping personal experience and word of mouth into a single statistic makes it difficult to judge how many incidents actually occurred.” 

Texas takes steps to divest from Ben & Jerry’s following settlement boycott,

“Texas on Thursday officially added Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever to a list of companies that boycott Israel over the former’s decision to cease the sale of its products in West Bank settlements, a further step on the path to the state divesting some $100 million from the companies….Thursday’s decision was made possible due to the Texas boycott law’s broad definition of Israel that includes the “territory’s [sic] that it controls” — i.e. the West Bank.”

L.A. teachers union sidesteps vote over Israel-Palestinian conflict,

“The union representing Los Angeles teachers stepped back late Thursday from acting on a resolution that would have condemned Israel and supported Palestinians. Instead, the union’s 250-member governing body overwhelmingly passed a substitute motion to establish voluntary forums for union members to discuss the issue. The substitute motion was “based on the concern that this is an extremely divisive issue that would seriously damage union unity at a time where we need solidarity in our coming contractual battles,” according to the wording of the resolution. The result means that the original resolution “cannot be brought back in its current form,” the union said in a statement.” See also “Los Angeles teachers union votes to postpone Israel boycott motion indefinitely” (JTA) and “Los Angeles teachers union votes to indefinitely postpone motion endorsing BDS” (Times of Israel)

Palestinian Scene

Hamas Rejects PA’s Call For Palestinian Local Elections Set for December,

“Palestinian militant group Hamas said Wednesday it would not participate in municipal elections set by the Palestinian Authority for December unless a general election is also called.”

Analysis: The PA keeps losing its authority, through its own actions,

“Recent statistics corroborate the growing resentment in the occupied Palestinian territories against the Palestinian Authority and its leader Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) carried out a poll at a time when the PA persisted in proving how unsynchronised it is with the Palestinian people’s needs, and to what lengths it would go to ensure its political survival over Palestinian liberation. Against the backdrop of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza, the extrajudicial killing of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat by the PA’s security services, as well as the PA’s repression of protests calling for justice for Banat, the PA fared badly, to the point that an unprecedented 80 per cent of Palestinians are now demanding Abbas’ resignation….87 per cent of Palestinians stated that the escape of the six Palestinian prisoners from Gilboa served “as an inspiration to Palestinians outside the prison to take the initiative and actively work toward the ending of occupation.” Abbas has also fared badly in terms of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza when compared to Hamas – 45 per cent of Palestinians believe that Hamas would better represent the Palestinians people, while only 19 per cent advocated for Fatah under the leadership of Abbas.”

Denmark signs $72m grant to Palestine,

“Denmark has provided Palestine with a $72 million grant to support its efforts to reach independence. The funds will be spent on local government, agriculture, civil society and in other fields.”

After normalization with Israel, Sudan closes door on support for Hamas,

“Sudanese authorities have taken control of lucrative assets that for years provided backing for Hamas, shedding light on how the country served as a haven for the Palestinian militant group under former leader Omar al-Bashir. The takeover of at least a dozen companies that officials say were linked to Hamas has helped accelerate Sudan’s realignment with the West since Bashir’s overthrow in 2019. Over the past year, Khartoum has won removal from the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism (SST) list and is on course for relief of more than $50 billion in debt.”

Hamas denies having any investments in Sudan ,

“Palestinian group Hamas denied on Thursday having any investments in Sudan, in response to a news report claiming Sudanese authorities have taken control of its assets.”We don’t have any investments in Sudan,” said spokesman Hazem Qassem. “We do not have a problem with any Sudanese authority.””

Gaza: Palestinian fishermen disappeared at sea found detained in Egypt,

“Two Palestinian fishermen who disappeared at sea in early September off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip have reportedly been located in prison in Egypt, their family told local media on Thursday. The families of Mohammed Musleh and Ezzedine Joudeh told Ma’an News Agency that they had lost contact with the two men while they were out on their boat fishing on 3 September….Egypt – which controls the Rafah crossing, the only land passage connecting the nearly two million Palestinians living in Gaza to the rest of the world – has arrested or killed several Palestinian fishers over the years.”

Diplomacy & Region

Israel police to establish permanent presence in UAE,

Israel is to establish a permanent police presence in the United Arab Emirates, in a move touted as being part of efforts to combat Israeli-run organised crime, according to The Telegraph. It is believed that a number of organised criminal operations moved to the UAE in the wake of the normalisation agreements between Israel and the Gulf state, which were signed in September 2020. Notorious families, such as the Hariri and Chaya families, are thought to have made the move, and have been reportedly controlling prostitution, drug dealing, and money laundering rackets in the country.”

At UN, Abbas Gives Israel One-year Ultimatum,

“President Mahmoud Abbas used his UN General Assembly address on Friday to warn that the Palestinian Authority would reverse its recognition of the 1967 borders and push to press charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court if the country did not withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in one year. Abbas said that he is “ready to work throughout this year on the delineation of borders and solving all final status issues under the auspices of the international Quartet and in accordance with United Nations resolutions. If this is not achieved, why maintain recognition of Israel based on the 1967 borders? Why maintain this recognition?”” See also “Abbas at the UN: Israel has one year to go back to the 1967 borders” (JPost) and “President Abbas at UNGA: We’re at a crossroads with the Israeli occupation” (WAFA)

Spyware, Surveillance, Civil Society

New evidence suggests spyware used to surveil Emirati activist Alaa Al-Siddiq,

“An examination of Al-Siddiq’s devices by researchers at Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, which tracks the use of spyware against activists and journalists, found that she was most likely hacked by a government client of NSO Group, the Israeli spyware company, beginning in 2015, when she lived in Qatar, to 2020, when she was living in London. It is the first time Citizen Lab has confirmed its findings. The case exemplifies a worrying trend for activists such as Al-Siddiq, who escaped the UAE to live in the relative safety of the UK, but was never out of the reach of Pegasus, NSO’s spyware. When the spyware is used by a government to infect a phone, Pegasus can monitor conversations, read text messages, see photographs and emails, and can turn a mobile into a remote listening device.” See also “Pegasus: Rights activist Alaa al-Siddiq hacked by Israeli spyware before death – report” (Middle East Eye)

Inside '48

'Arab Lives Matter' sweeps Twitter as 3 Arab-Israelis die in 24 hours,

Three murders struck Arab-Israeli society in less than 24 hours in the Negev region and in the localities of Zarzir and Taibe. The three cases joined an already long list of 89 Arab-Israelis were killed since the beginning of the year, according to the Abraham Initiatives fund. Protests in the form of marches, demonstrations and social media initiatives have arisen to stop the violence within Arab-Israeli society and urge the authorities and police to dedicate more resources to that end. This latest series of murders have sparked a spontaneous protest over social networks that spread quickly over Twitter.”

Opinion | Israel Must Recognize a Simple Truth: Arab Lives Matter,

“Who would believe that the hashtag #Arab_lives_matter would, in less than a day, turn into a virtual protest campaign, creating a tumult on social media networks and winning wide coverage in the Israeli media, both in Hebrew and Arabic? Not for a minute did we expect that to happen and the moment it did, we understood that this was the time to remember that Arab lives are important. It’s not a social media trend but words that call everyone’s attention to the violence and crime in the Arab community that take the lives of Arab citizens every week. Imagine a life of constant fear where a stray bullet, or one fired deliberately, hits you right outside your home or at a wedding you are attending. There’s no need to imagine too hard, because that is what characterizes day-to-day life for Arabs in the State of Israel.”

Israel’s (personal) arms race,

“According to data from Israel’s Public Security Ministry, which enforces gun-control regulations,  since “Operation Guardian of the Walls” was launched on May 11, some 10,580 applications for a personal firearms license have been filed—six times the number of applications for the same period last year. According to the ministry’s data, the uptick in applications is nationwide.”

A Star Israeli-Arab Journalist Wants Jews to Know the Truth,

“At the age of 28, Mohammad Magadli, the first Arab to become a regular commentator on a major newscast, has no intention of wasting the rare platform he’s been given at the heart of Israeli prime time. But he also knows that the slightest mistake could turn him from star to enemy.”

In Memoriam

US-born ex-MK Marcia Freedman, a pioneer of Israeli women’s rights, dies at 83,

“Marcia Freedman, an Israeli lawmaker who was a pioneer of LGBTQ and women’s rights in the 1970s and initiated the first women’s shelter in the country, died on Tuesday at the age of 83. The United States-born left-winger was also an early champion of the two-state solution, advocating recognition of an independent Palestinian state.”