Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 9, 2021

What We’re Reading

Prison Break

Israel: 'largest manhunt in Israeli history' for six Palestinian escapees,

“Israeli security and intelligence services have been involved since Monday in ‘the largest manhunt’ in the occupation state’s history in the search for six Palestinians who escaped from the high-security Gilboa Prison through a tunnel. As the search continues, the Israel Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, has boosted the number of soldiers involved in the manhunt. According to the Jerusalem Post, the ‘massive manhunt’ involves police, Shin Bet internal security agents, Border Police and troops from two IDF battalions and fourteen companies of soldiers, as well as Special Forces. The newspaper added that there are around 200 roadblocks in place across Israel as part of the efforts to find the escapees. Special units including dog handlers and air support are also involved. More than 750 military vehicles are tied up by the search. ‘The incident constitutes a rare humiliation of the Israeli security establishment,’ said the New York Times, ‘and has provoked alarm about the security lapses that may have aided the fugitives’ escape.’”


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Israel attacks solidarity protests for escaped Palestinians,

“Dozens of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have been wounded in confrontations with Israeli soldiers while protesting in solidarity with six Palestinian men who managed to escape a high-security Israeli prison earlier this week. Relatives of Palestinian prisoners have been arrested as Israel launched a massive manhunt to capture the six men who tunnelled out of the Gilboa jail on Monday. Israeli forces fired tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, and live ammunition at crowds who were taking part in rallies on Wednesday evening across various cities in the West Bank, wounding at least 100 people, the Palestine Red Crescent said.”


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Prisoners In Israeli Jails Announce General Mobilization,

“The movement of prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centers announced a general mobilization, and threatened to rebel against all prison administration laws, if the ‘repressive and punitive’ measures taken against them continued since the escape of six prisoners from the heavily guarded Gilboa prison in northern Israel.”


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Theater kid turned militant stars in Israeli prison break,

“For nearly two decades, Zakaria Zubeidi has been an object of fascination for Israelis and Palestinians alike, who have seen his progression from a child actor to a swaggering militant, to the scarred face of a West Bank theater promoting ‘cultural resistance’ to Israeli occupation. Now he has emerged as one of Israel’s most wanted fugitives after tunneling out of a high-security prison on Monday with five other Palestinian militants.”

Palestinians Hail Escapees, Ridicule Israel Over Failure,

“The collective Palestinian pride in the prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison stands in direct proportion to its reputation as the most highly guarded prison for security offenders. It is so well-secured, as is usually noted, that some ex-prisoners have floated the idea that the six men were helped by one of the guards. In any case, Islamic Jihad spokesmen are asking everyone to call this not an ‘escape’ but ‘an act of liberation,’ with the prisoners being lauded for liberating themselves.”


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Occupation & Apartheid: West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem

Shabbat Terror in the West Bank,

“…Amid a broad escalation of violence against Palestinians in the occupied territories, Shabbat has become the most violent day of the week in the South Hebron Hills. Unprovoked attacks on Palestinians have become something of a Shabbat afternoon pastime for the religious Zionist settlers in the region. Palestinians who live there even report seeing Israelis from elsewhere who have traveled to the area to spend the weekend beating up residents. Much like Sunday lynchings in the Jim Crow South—where white mobs murdered Black people on the Christian Sabbath, when they had time to participate in violence at their leisure—Saturdays have become an excuse for violence in the South Hebron Hills, transforming the Jewish day of rest into a social soiree of brutality.”

Israeli settlers vandalize Palestinian property in Hebron’s Old City,

“Israeli settlers Thursday overnight vandalized Palestinian property in the old city of Hebron in the southern West Bank, according to local sources. Aref Jaber, an activist from Human Rights Defenders, a project that aims to document human rights violations by the Israeli occupation in Palestine, said that a group of settlers attacked Palestinian homes and vehicles in the Jaber neighborhood, smashing their windshields. He added that Palestinians attempted to fend off the settler attack, but were met by Israeli military gunfire. No injuries were reported though.”


Region & World

Israel PM Bennett to make rare public visit to Egypt,

“Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is expected to travel to Egypt next week for the first public visit by an Israeli prime minister in over a decade. The big picture: Israel officials speculate that by inviting Bennett publicly so early in his term, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government is trying to signal Egypt’s importance in the region to the Biden administration. Flashback: Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had visited Sisi in secret, and he also met him at the UN General Assembly meeting in 2017. But the last public visit came in 2010 when then-President Hosni Mubarak hosted a summit with Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What to watch: Other than establishing a personal relationship, the meeting is expected to focus on Gaza.”

India’s deepening love affair with Israel,

“Under Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, the strategic, military, and ideological ties between Israel and India are growing stronger.”

Lawfare, Surveillance, & Social Media

US: Arizona divests from Ben & Jerry's parent company,

“The US state of Arizona has divested all public funds from the parent corporation of Ben & Jerry’s over the ice cream company’s decision to halt sales in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee announced on Tuesday that the state was selling off all its investments in Unilever, stating that the Ben & Jerry’s decision was in violation of Arizona law. ‘Arizona will not do business with companies that are attempting to undermine Israel’s economy and blatantly disregarding Arizona’s law,’ Yee, who is running for governor in 2022, said in a press release.”

Israeli NSO Was Used to Snoop on Orbán Critic in Hungary, Report Reveals,

“The Hungarian partner in the Project Pegasus probe confirms that the phone of a politician-turned-journalist opposed to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was infected with NSO’s Pegasus spyware.”

Twitter blocks accounts of two far-right Israeli political figures,

“Twitter blocked the accounts of far-right Israeli political activists Bentzi Gopstein and Baruch Marzel on Wednesday. Neither party was permitted to appeal this decision. Baruch Marzel heads the Jewish National Front party and has worked for the controversial Rabbi Meir Kahane in the past. Bentzi Gopstein is known for founding the Lehava organization. The two polarizing figures have been subject to sharp criticism in Israel over the course of several years for their extremist views.”