Top News from Palestine/Israel: August 7, 2020

What We’re Reading

Annexation, Occupation, & Human Rights Violations

Palestinian Woman Dies After Being Shot During an Israeli Army Raid,

“A 23-year-old Palestinian woman died after being shot early Friday by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Jenin, the Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement. The woman, Dalia Samudi, was hit with live bullets that penetrated her chest, the ministry said, and was rushed to a local hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. Samudi was shot while attempting to close the window in order to prevent teargas from entering her home, according to her friend. Samudi is a mother and her youngest child is newborn.  The Israeli army said its forces entered the city overnight to arrest suspects. During the operation, the army said, soldiers used sponge-tipped bullets and tear gas to disperse Palestinian residents who gathered in the area.”

Via Facebook, Israel Is Trying to Change Palestinian Perception of the Occupation,

“In the summer of 2016, Israel’s Shin Bet security service opened a Facebook page in Arabic called Bidna Na’ish (“We Want to Live”). It’s a rather tricky name. In Palestinian slang, bidna na’ish is an expression used by residents of the territories who are sick of the struggle with Israel and are mostly interested in putting food on the table for their children. Which is in fact a central message of the Shin Bet’s Facebook page: You’re better off, Palestinians, concentrating on improving your quality of life than in dealing with politics…Operatively, the Facebook posts are intended to help curb violent resistance by the Palestinians, but they seem to have a more important purpose as well: to change Palestinian perception about their situation in the West Bank and about Israel in general. The overriding aim seems to be to legitimize Israeli military rule and to normalize the settlements in the territories. The modus operandi is to create an imaginary world on Facebook in which there is no occupation, where Palestinians and Israelis live in tranquility and equality in the West Bank, and the Shin Bet works on behalf of Jews and Arabs alike. In this virtual reality, resistance to Israel’s military government is described as opposition to the peace and progress that Israel has to offer, and as harmful to those who take part in those benefits.”

Occupation routine: Soldiers raid two homes in al-Fawwar Refugee Camp, assault family and destroy fuse box in workshop,

“In the early hours of 25 June 2020 and 7 July 2020, dozens of soldiers raided two homes of the extended Abu Hashhsash family in al-Fawwar Refugee Camp, under the pretext of searching for three family members. The soldiers entered both homes without masks. In the first, they beat three family members and blew up a fuse box in the metal workshop of another member. In the second, they set a dog on three members of the family and beat one of them. In both cases, right after the raid, an ISA agent called the family, who were not suspected of anything, and demanded that the relatives the military was looking for turn themselves in. In one case, the agent explicitly threatened that soldiers would return and turn the family’s home into a “battleground”.”

4-year-old East Jerusalem girl dies after being struck in head by bullet,

“The girl was named Friday as Hanan Yassim Zalum of the Silwan neighborhood. Zalum was struck in the head by a bullet while she was at home, according to the Haaretz daily, which quoted Silwan residents saying the source of the gunfire was likely from errant shots fired during a brawl between two families.”

Palestinian village Farasin defiant despite threats of being wiped off the map,

“Amarneh is the head of the village council in Farasin, a tiny hamlet in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin, just a few kilometres east of the Green Line. Up until last week, Amarneh’s job was mostly symbolic, keeping the peace between the 200 residents of Farasin, who are mostly descendents of the same two families, settling any land disputes, and welcoming any visitors that may come to the village. Now, he’s in charge of fighting what he says is a concentrated effort on the part of Israeli authorities to expel the people of Farasin from their land. Over the past year and a half, Amarneh says Israeli authorities have ordered the demolition, evacuation, or construction freeze on every single of the 36 structures in Farasin.”


East Jerusalem buckles under virus’s 2nd wave, while largely ignored by Israel,

““Things are absolutely out of control here,” Fouad Abu Hamid, director of a clinic in East Jerusalem’s Beit Safafa neighborhood, warned in an interview last week. The number of new cases is increasing even as the total number of tests is going down. Augusta Victoria Hospital director Walid Nammour said this could mean that large numbers of cases are going undetected. Most East Jerusalem Palestinians are permanent residents of Israel but not citizens. Their blue residency cards entitle them to membership in one of Israel’s four health maintenance organizations and to National Insurance, although government accountability reports have found that a complex and opaque system sometimes blocks them from actually accessing state benefits. Still, by the end of the first wave of coronavirus in the Palestinian territories, East Jerusalem seemed largely untouched, thanks to an exceptional degree of coordination between the Jerusalem municipality and local Palestinian groups to fight the virus. The municipality opened an East Jerusalem command center in City Hall, directed by the IDF Home Front Command, while local coronavirus committees were formed to track the situation in each of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods. The city, in coordination with local councils, distributed hundreds of meals to families during Ramadan…But the second wave has seen far less coordination with local Palestinian authorities, according to Nammour. Lion’s weekly meetings with East Jerusalem health officials ceased with the end of the first wave and have yet to resume — even as the situation grows more dire by the day.”

Palestinian child detainee tests positive for COVID-19 in Israeli prison,

“A Palestinian child prisoner detained by Israeli forces in late July has tested positive for COVID-19, the first known case involving a Palestinian child detainee confirmed by Defense for Children International – Palestine. Israeli forces detained the 15-year-old Palestinian boy* around 4 am on July 23 from his home in Al Jalazoun refugee camp located north of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. He was transferred to Israel’s Shikma prison, located inside Israel in Ashkelon, for interrogation, according to Iyad Misk, a DCIP lawyer. Israeli authorities postponed his interrogation after he tested positive for COVID-19. “


Israel Strikes Hamas Target in Gaza After Explosive-laden Balloons Launch, Army Says,

“The Israel Air Force struck a Hamas underground infrastructure in the Gaza Strip in response to explosive-laden balloons launched from the enclave earlier on Thursday, the Israeli army said in a statement. A spokesperson for the Fire and Rescue Service said Thursday that three fires were sparked by the explosive balloons flown from Gaza into Israel. The fires broke out in the Eshkol regional council and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. The spokesperson added that the fires were small and didn’t pose real danger.”

Gaza incendiary balloons spark fires in south, ending lull,

“At least three brush fires were ignited Thursday in southern Israel by balloons carrying incendiary devices that were launched from the Gaza Strip, the fire department said, sparking concern over a possible return of the phenomenon.”

Israeli Domestic Politics

Early election speculation grows as no agenda published for cabinet meeting,

“Speculation was rife Friday that Israel could be headed to new elections, the fourth since April 2019, as no progress was made in a crucial standoff between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz over the state budget, and not a single item was put on the government’s agenda for Sunday’s cabinet meeting, according to Hebrew-language media. The Knesset has until August 25 to approve a budget or it will automatically dissolve.”

Polls: Netanyahu could form right-wing gov't despite Likud freefall,

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party continues its downward trend in the polls, as two new surveys published Thursday night showed. Polls conducted for broadcaster Channel 13 and Israel’s public broadcaster Kan showed that the Likud, if elections were held today, would gain 29 and 30 seats in parliament respectively. However, despite the drop in numbers, the so-called “Right bloc” strengthened in comparison with March’s elections, receiving a total of 63 and 62 seats respectively — which would be enough for Netanyahu to form a right-wing government…One party that saw a sharp spike was former defense minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party with 19 seats, according to Channel 13, tied together with Opposition Leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party. The Joint List came in fourth with 15 Knesset (Israel Parliament) seats, followed by Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu and ultra-Orthodox Shas party with eight seats each. Sealing the list were United Torah Judaism and Meretz parties, both gaining seven seats.”

Has Israel's Gantz lost will to fight?,

“With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisting on a one-year budget, Defense Minister Benny Gantz is left with two unappealing choices and perhaps the end of his political career.”

Jerusalem Police Evict anti-Netanyahu Protesters After Disagreements Over Camp's Location,

“The evacuation took place even though city hall announced Thursday that it would provide the protesters with an alternative spot inside the park. The city said that the protesters could gather and sleep in this area – but without setting up an encampment. It added it held talks with protest leaders over the past week, but claimed the demonstrators didn’t stick to the area assigned to them.”

U.S. Policy

US top diplomat for Iran Brian Hook steps down,

“US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams will replace Hook while continuing his duties regarding the South American country, according to Pompeo. Iran and Venezuela are both sanctioned by the United States and have developed a close economic relationship as a result.”

Israel may not top progressive agendas now, but tensions with the pro-Israel community will persist,

“The Israel issue isn’t necessarily toward the top of the progressive to-do lists at the moment, but that doesn’t mean elements of the movement are any less at odds with the pro-Israel community…Compelling narratives of class struggle are what is winning elections for these candidates. And when their Israel-critical posture emerges, it will be inextricably woven into those narratives, in no small part because of the tendency of some pro-Israel activists to make enemies of these folks.”

Back from NY, Dani Dayan losing sleep over future of Israel-Diaspora relations,

“Dayan was hesitant to discuss Israeli politics, but offered that he was not worried about the Jewish state becoming a wedge issue in American partisan politics. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s close alignment with US President Donald Trump did not cause significant harm to bipartisan support for Israel, he posited. “Israel has a very clear strategy: to have as intimate as possible a relationship with any American administration. I have no doubt that if Secretary [Hillary] Clinton had been elected president, Israel would have acted in exactly the same way, it would have made a concerted effort to have as intimate a relationship with the administration as possible.” Dayan acknowledged that progressive forces within the Democratic Party are hostile to Israel, but argued that their opposition to the Jewish state has nothing to do with its government’s policies.“There’s no point in trying to convince them. They will not be satisfied until Israel disappears from the map. Yes, there are those sectors: we see it on campus, we see it in politics. It’s a problem, I am not underestimating it. But to generalize and to say we cannot maintain a dialogue with a progressive is a total mistake.” Of course Israel can and should do more to reach out to left-wing Americans, he said. “But it’s not a lost battle.””

As a case in point, Dayan cites this week’s Democratic primaries for New York’s 15th district, which is located in the South Bronx. “It’s probably the poorest district in New York state. There are virtually no Jews there. Five of the six candidates were progressives. And five out of the six, including the winner, are pro-Israel.”