Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 4, 2020

What We’re Reading

Occupation, De Facto Annexation, & Human Rights Violations Continue...

Three children burn to death in Gaza candle fire,

“Three children were burnt to death in a fire in the besieged Gaza Strip on Tuesday. It is believed that the fire was started by candles being used to provide light in the family home during one of the territory’s frequent and lengthy power cuts. Mahmoud, Mohammed, and Yousef Al-Hazeen, the eldest of which was no more than ten years old, were brothers living in Al-Nuseirat refugee camp. They went to bed early on Tuesday because they weren’t allowed to play outside due to the coronavirus lockdown.”

Occupation forces attack weekly Kafr Qaddum protest,

“Dozens of Palestinians suffocated from teargas today as Israeli occupation forces attacked the weekly protest against Israeli settlements, which takes place every Friday in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the north of the occupied West Bank, local sources said. Morad Shtewi, an official in charge of the popular resistance file in the village, told WAFA that Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated rounds and teargas at the protesters, causing many cases of suffocation from gas inhalation.”

Pregnant woman among four injured in settler attack northeast of Ramallah,

“Israeli settlers late Wednesday attacked a Palestinian vehicle with stones near Turmusayya town, northeast of Ramallah, injuring four passengers, including a pregnant woman, medical sources said. The sources confirmed that settlers pelted a Palestinian vehicle as it was traveling along the road near the town with stones, injuring four passengers and causing extensive material damage. The four [injuries], including a nine-month pregnant who was seriously injured, were rushed to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.”

Palestinian prisoner dies of heart attack in Israel's Ofer jail,

“A Palestinian prisoner died of a heart attack in Israeli custody on Wednesday night, only a few months before the end of his 18-year sentence, Palestinian media has reported. Daoud Talaat al-Khatib, a 45-year-old from the town of Bethlehem, died in Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank, official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa quoted the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) as saying. Khatib was due to be released on 4 December, after being sentenced to 18 years in prison for his involvement in anti-occupation activities as a member of the Fatah movement.”

Israeli Army Commander Won't Be Tried for Shooting Palestinian Who Threw Rock at His Car,

“Shomer, who was sitting next to where the rock hit the car, was injured lightly. Mohammad Kosba, who threw the rock, tried to flee and was shot, subsequently dying of his wounds, near the West Bank town of al-Ram, just north of Jerusalem.”

'Withholding his body is another suffering': Palestinian family fight for son's remains,

“Israeli authorities are withholding the body of a 16-year-old Palestinian who was killed by Israeli forces in unclear circumstances during a West Bank raid two weeks ago – with his family fearful that they will be barred from burying their son. Mohammad Hreiz, from the village of Deir Abu Meshaal in the central occupied West Bank, succumbed to his wounds on 20 August, a day after Israeli forces opened fire at him and two of his friends. Israeli forces have reportedly claimed that Mohammad – who was initially identified as Mohammad Matar – and his friends had laid tyres on the ground in order to set them on fire. However, a UN report cited Palestinian eyewitnesses as saying that neither clashes nor tyre burning were ongoing at the time.”

The dehumanization is the point,

“As long as the occupation, land grab, and daily humiliation continue, so will the popular struggle against them. The demonstrations sometimes develop into clashes between armed soldiers and stone-throwing youths, but they do not involve the use of firearms by the protestors — and they are, in general, clearly civilian in nature. As such, the use of lethal force against protestors should be strictly prohibited, except in extreme circumstances of danger posed to soldiers. Based on everything we know has happened at these protests, why it is so difficult to believe that the military had either sent, enabled, or simply did not prevent soldiers from planting IEDs to intimidate or coerce a civilian population for the sake of “deterrence”? I believe it comes from our inability to accept something far more shocking: the scope of the dehumanization and erosion of basic human dignity of the residents of Kufr Qaddum, and all Palestinians in the West Bank, that we Israelis carry out as a society and state. The prevailing belief in Israel is that we can do anything we please to the Palestinians, and that somehow, an entire people struggling against a much stronger occupying force will be deterred if we only harm, intimidate, or abuse them enough.”

Palestinian Politics

Abbas meets Hamas, Islamic Jihad terror heads, says he won’t engage with US plan,

“The meeting focused on reconciliation efforts among the Palestinians and on the United Arab Emirates’ decision to normalize ties with Israel last month. Senior members of all 14 main major Palestinian factions were in attendance for the first time in nearly a decade. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah joined by video conference from Beirut.”

Rival Palestinian factions hold rare joint meeting over Israel-UAE deal,

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held a rare meeting with rival factions on Thursday as they sought to present a united front over Israel and the United Arab Emirates’ deal to normalise ties. The meeting was held through video-conference between Ramallah in the West Bank and Beirut, where Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and Islamic Jihad Secretary General Ziyad al-Nakhalah attended. It is rare for Islamist Hamas and Abbas’s secular Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization to have such high-level contacts after years of in-fighting.”

Led by President Abbas, factions confirm rejection of all projects aimed at liquidating our national cause,

“The meeting of the General Secretaries of the Palestinian Factions held yesterday in Ramallah and Beirut via videoconference confirmed that our people, unified under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, absolutely rejects all projects aimed at liquidating the Palestinian national cause and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”

Report: PA interested in renewing security ties with Israel,

“A security source told broadcaster Kan on Wednesday that senior Palestinian Authority officials had expressed a desire to renew the coordination through various messages, although no further details were provided.”

UAE-Israel Normalization

Bahrain to allow UAE-Israel flights to cross airspace,

“Bahrain announced Thursday that the United Arab Emirates would be permitted to fly over the island kingdom late Thursday, following Saudi Arabia’s lead a day earlier. “Bahrain will allow all flights coming to and departing from the United Arab Emirates to all countries to cross its airspace,” an official at the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications told the official Bahrain News Agency.”

Saudi source: Crown Prince set to meet Trump,

“US President Donald Trump is expected to invite Saudi Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman to the White House following the signing of the Israel-UAE peace agreement and ahead of the US presidential elections in November, a senior Saudi source has told “Globes.” During the meeting on Tuesday between bin Salman and Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior advisor on the Middle East and son-in-law, major progress was made on the issue of the planned White House meeting and the full details should be agreed upon soon.”

Netanyahu Privately Condoned U.S. Plan to Sell Arms to U.A.E., Officials Say.,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel privately went along with a plan for the Trump administration to sell advanced weapons to the United Arab Emirates, despite publicly saying later that he opposed the arms deal, according to officials familiar with the negotiations. Mr. Netanyahu chose not to try to block the deal as he took part in a broader effort in recent months to secure a diplomatic breakthrough normalizing relations between Israel and the Emirates, the officials said. President Trump announced the initiative to great fanfare last month, without mentioning the arms discussions that were proceeding on a parallel track. But after news of the arms sale became public late last month, the Israeli prime minister repeatedly denied that he had given assurances to the Trump administration that Israel would not oppose the Emirati arms deal. The officials said Mr. Netanyahu’s public statements were false. He then stopped publicly complaining about the proposed arms sale after a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem last week that brought the Israeli prime minister back in line, the officials said. The White House has accelerated its push in recent weeks to sell a package of cutting-edge weapons to the Emirates, including F-35 fighter jets and Reaper drones. The deal also includes EA-18G Growler jets — electronic warfare planes that pave the way for stealth attacks by jamming enemy air defenses. That element of the package has not previously been reported.”

Israel's El Al will operate first cargo plane from Israeli airline to Dubai,

“Israel’s flagship airline El Al will fly the first cargo flight from an Israeli airline to Dubai this month. On Sept. 16, an El Al jet will fly to Belgium and pick up farming and tech products and then head to the United Arab Emirates’ most populous city, Reuters reported today. The flight is the latest example of strengthening ties between Israel and the UAE since they agreed to establish full relations in August.”

Peace with the UAE is fabulous. But Israel’s existential problem is at home.,

“It’s fabulous that Israelis and Gulf Arabs are reaching for the stars. But Israel’s existential problem is not Abu Dhabi or Dubai or the dark side of the moon. Its problem is its conflict with the Palestinians who live thirty minutes from Tel Aviv, under a 53-year-old oppressive occupation which is a calamity for Palestinians and Israelis alike.”

Israeli Domestic Scene

Attorney general says Netanyahu won’t have to step down when graft trial revs up,

“Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won’t have to step down when his trial on corruption charges revs up in January. “Starting in the coming months, the prime minister’s trial will be held at the Jerusalem District Court, with a high frequency of hearings… To me this fact in itself doesn’t establish any cause for the prime minister’s recusal,” Mandelblit said at a conference organized by the Israel Bar Association in Herzliya.”

Israel roasts in extreme heat wave, day after Jerusalem broke all records,

“The temperature in Jerusalem had passed 39ºC (102ºF) as of 11:30 a.m., according to Israel Meteorological Service data, a day after the capital recorded an all-time high of 42ºC (107ºF) since record-keeping began in 1942.”

Israelis across the globe join anti-Netanyahu protests,

“Indeed, Israelis demonstrating against their government outside Israel isn’t an everyday event. The prevailing perception is that Israelis living abroad should support their country and government almost automatically. Israeli law enables only citizens living in the country to vote. Diplomats and official emissaries are the only exceptions to that rule. The logic behind this is that citizens who choose to live elsewhere, who do not participate in the country’s daily life, do not pay their taxes there, do not serve in the army, are not confronted with the risks of living in a country at war and are not exposed to terror attacks, should not have the right to decide who would govern.”


Palestine records 806 confirmed coronavirus cases, three fatalities,

“Palestine today recorded 806 new novel coronavirus cases and three fatalities in the last 24 hours. Health Minister Mai al-Kaileh announced in a press statement that 806 Palestinians contracted the highly contagious virus and three other died of it in the occupied territories in the last 24 hours. Among the 806 cases, 220 cases were recorded in Hebron district, 27 others in Nablus, 48 others in Bethlehem, 38 others in Qalqilia, 92 others in Ramallah and al-Bireh, four others in Jenin, 21 others in Jericho and the Jordan Valley, 18 others in Salfit, nine others in Tubas, 16 others in Tulkarem, 116 others in Gaza and 197 in Jerusalem.”

Ministers approve lockdowns on 30 cities hard hit by coronavirus,

“The so-called coronavirus cabinet, which leads Israel’s response to the pandemic, decided on Thursday to impose lockdowns on 30 localities with high COVID-19 infection rates. Under these new measures, residents will be prohibited from venturing more than 500 meters (1600 feet) away from home except for the supply of food, medicine, and other essential house maintenance needs; all “non-essential” businesses will be shuttered; educational institutions will be closed except for kindergartens and special education; and travel to, within, and from the cities, and even certain neighborhoods will be restricted.”

Mayors Reluctantly Agree on Lockdown as Arab Cities Top List of Israel's Hot Spots,

“Arab mayors were largely but far from unanimously supportive of the government’s decision on Thursday to impose lockdowns on towns with a high incidence of the coronavirus. Twenty-two of the 30 locales on the government list of these so-called “red cities” are Arab, including the top seven. “No mayor wants a lockdown, given the social and economic implications,” said Arara Mayor Mudar Yunis, who also chairs the council of Arab mayors. “But on the other hand, we can’t accept this level of illness. It’s intolerable, and it’s becoming very dangerous. Consequently, I personally, like many of my colleagues, support the restrictions.””

Coronavirus is turning Gaza’s nights even darker,

“The wider, popular reaction in Gaza to the ceasefire agreement has been tepid. Although people are glad for a respite from the bombings, they are consumed by fear of the virus outbreak. They are demanding serious solutions that, at the very least, make their lockdown easier, and have grown tired of the political games played by their leadership and Israel.”

Permission to Narrate a Pandemic In Palestine,

“The extension of academic censorship on Palestine to the medical world is, despite its pervasiveness, relatively unknown. In the latest iteration, a letter highlighting the Gaza Strip’s vulnerability to the Covid-19 pandemic was removed from The Lancet’s website after a swift pressure campaign. While the immediate effects were minimal—despite its short shelf-life, the piece is among the top 5% most discussed research publications—the chilling effect of such campaigns on writers and editors is profound and enduring. This commentary outlines the struggle to make space for discussion and academic inquiry into the health impacts of the ongoing suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people.”