Top News from Palestine & Israel: June 22, 2021

What We’re Reading


Fresh clashes at East Jerusalem flashpoint; 20 Palestinians, 1 Israeli wounded,

“Palestinian protesters and Jewish residents clashed late Monday in a volatile East Jerusalem neighborhood before police moved in to disperse the Palestinians, wounding at least 20. Jewish residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood said protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Jewish homes, lightly wounding a pregnant woman who was hit in the head with a stone. The neighborhood has been the scene of frequent clashes in recent weeks over the impending eviction of Palestinian families and the violence has spilled over into wider conflict in Jerusalem and beyond. The Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip used the clashes as a pretext to fire rockets at Jerusalem sparking a 11-day conflict with Israel. After the protesters attacked a Jewish home, residents responded with rocks and pepper spray and a brawl broke out. Police then used riot dispersal means, including batons, tear gas, “skunk” water cannons and sponge-tipped bullets. The Palestinian Red Crescent said 20 Palestinians had been treated, including 3 for pepper spray, 13 from tear gas inhalation, two hit by sponge-tipped bullets, and two with wounds from being hit by batons.”


Also see:

Israel Police Uses Posts at Damascus Gate to Beat Palestinians,

“The police violence within the police guard booths at the Damascus Gate are an extreme example of police behavior in East Jerusalem in recent months – the use of unexplained aggression, collective punishment and the vigorous use of crowd-dispersal measures even when not necessary. The violence generally takes place when police decide to disperse groups of Palestinians whom they fear could start demonstrating or get violent. It’s important to stress that the overwhelming majority of clashes between policemen and Palestinians in Jerusalem in recent months began when a police officer decided to forcibly disperse a Palestinian crowd without having been provoked by any Palestinian violence. This generally happens because the crowd is getting too big from the police’s perspective, the shouting of nationalist slogans, flying the Palestinian flag and on rare occasions, the throwing of a water bottle. Those gathered are dispersed with heavy force, using stun grenades, the firing of sponge-tipped bullets, the use of mounted police and the indiscriminate spraying of the foul-smelling ‘skunk’ water.”

Israeli Police Revive Use of Batons After Police Chief Eases Rules,

“Once employed mainly in riots and severe cases of public disturbance, one of the most violent and intimidating tools available to police is now being widely used, particularly in Jerusalem.”

Short Palestinian film on Sheikh Jarrah goes viral,

“The young Palestinian director Omar Ramal is still reaping positive reactions to his short film The Place, which he produced and posted on social media during the recent events in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem.”

The West Bank

'Silent intifada': West Bank is at boiling point,

“The most disturbing statistic shows that during the past month, at least 34 Palestinians were killed in terror attacks and clashes – more than during any other month in the past 10 years. By comparison, in April just one Palestinian was killed in clashes, none were killed in March and one was killed in February. Even when comparing the data over the past month to previous periods of security tensions, this is an unusually high number of deaths. For example, at the height of the wave of knife and car-ramming attacks of 2015-2016, which was the most significant escalation in the West Bank in the last decade, an average of 26 Palestinians were killed each month. The high death toll, growing number of terrorist attacks and other disturbances all point to an extremely fragile situation in the West Bank.”

Palestinian security officer killed in Israeli shooting - report,

“A member of the Palestinian National Security Forces was killed in an alleged shooting attack by Israelis near the Palestinian town of Dayr Sharaf, located northwest of Nablus in the West Bank, on Monday night, according to Palestinian media.Initial reports indicated that Israeli settlers fired on the security officer’s vehicle. The incident has not been confirmed by officials as of yet…In a separate incident on Saturday evening, Palestinian media reported that Israelis fired towards Palestinian shops near Dayr Sharaf without causing any injuries.”

Hundreds of settlers march against Palestinian construction,

“Hundreds of right-wing activists demonstrated in the West Bank on Monday against unauthorized Palestinian construction in Area C, which constitutes some 60 percent of the territory, and is under full Israeli security and civil control. The settler protests were held in the Hebron Hills, Binyamin, and Etzion bloc regions of the West Bank, along with other areas. Some 100 demonstrators also marched from the Tapuah Junction to the new illegal Israeli outpost of Evyatar, the site of recent deadly clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. The protesters accused the Israeli government of turning a blind eye to rampant illegal Palestinian building in the area, and called for greater enforcement.”


Also see:

Facing demolition, new Samaria town [aka, illegal settlement outpost] looks to Supreme Court,

“The IDF is reportedly determined to go through with the evacuation of the settlement of Evyatar, after rejecting a construction plan filed by its residents. In its response to the request, the IDF Central Command stated that Evyatar’s residents ‘violated the law in a blatant and grave manner, and this is conduct that can in no way be condoned.’…What this means in practice is that the only route left open to the 50 families living in Evyatar is to appeal to the Supreme Court, and it is likely that they will do so.”


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Palestine seeks to renew 1m covid vaccine exchange deal with Israel,

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) plans to renew a deal to receive 1.4 million Pfizer vaccines from Israel, after rejecting the original supply due to the vaccines being too close to their expiration date. According to Wafa news agency, PA Health Minister Mai Alkaila confirmed yesterday that her office would renegotiate with Pfizer and the Israeli Ministry of Health on how to complete the implementation of the agreement in a way that would ensure the safety of the doses. ‘We will resume discussions with Pfizer to obtain the vaccines that expire at the end of the month of July as soon as possible, so that we have sufficient time to vaccinate all groups established according to the national vaccination plan,’ through which the PA hopes to achieve a 70 per cent rate of immunity, Alkaila said. The initial delivery of Pfizer-BioNtech doses failed to conform “to the specifications contained in the agreement, and accordingly, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh instructed the minister of health to cancel the agreement,” PA spokesman, Ibrahim Melhem, said. ‘The government refuses to receive vaccines that are about to expire,’ he added.”

Gaza Strip

‘Open Gaza immediately,’ says manager of Israel-Gaza crossing,

“Opening up Gaza ‘is clearly in Israel’s interest,’ said the manager of the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza, Shlomo Tzaban, during a talk with students at Ben-Gurion University last week. ‘Gaza has to be opened up immediately, without linkage to prisoners and missing persons and without linkage to Hamas,’ he said. ‘If we open it [Gaza] today, there will be no suicide bombings and Hamas will be severely weakened.’ Tzaban, who has been overseeing the civilian entry and exit point between Israel and Gaza since security at the crossing was privatized in 2006, was a guest speaker in a class on the history of Gaza headed by Dr. Yonatan Mendel and Dotan Halevi.” Also see: Israel insists it will not ease siege imposed on Gaza (Middle East Monitor)

Gaza reconstruction delayed by lack of clarity on process,

“Egypt and Qatar promised to provide about $1 billion for the reconstruction of Gaza, but there is still no clear agreement on the reconstruction mechanism, how the reconstruction funds will enter and who will lead the process.”


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Hamas UN Gaza talks break down as Sinwar calls for popular resistance,

“Hamas talks with the United Nations held on Monday have failed, its Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar told reporters yesterday as he accused Israel of blackmail, calling for popular resistance and a meeting of all the Palestinian factions. ‘This was a bad meeting and it was totally not positive,’ Sinwar said. ‘The meeting with the UN delegation was thorough and they listened to us. But unfortunately, there are no indications of intentions to solve the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. We informed the UN that we won’t accept this,’ Sinwar said of the meeting that had included UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland. ‘It seems the occupation did not understand our message. We will practice popular resistance,’ the Gaza leader said.” Also see: Hamas, UN meeting on ceasefire with Israel falls through (YNet)

Report: Nearly half of Gaza war casualties associated with terrorist groups,

“At least 48 percent of Gazans killed during the recent conflict with Israel from May 10-21 were associated with terrorist groups, according to a report released Tuesday by the Israeli-based research group Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. The think tank used the number of 234 Gaza casualties taken from different estimates ranging between 240 and 260. Out of the 234 killed, 112 were associated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups.”

Gaza Pepsi Factory Shuts down, Owners Blame Israeli Restrictions,

“Gaza’s Pepsi bottling company was forced to halt operations this week due to Israeli import restrictions that were tightened during an 11-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants last month, the company’s owners say. With a truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas largely holding, Israel on Monday allowed a limited resumption of exports from the enclave. But it has kept in place tightened measures on raw material imports, including carbon dioxide gas and syrup that the bottling company’s factory needs to produce Pepsi, 7UP and Mirinda soda, said Pepsi Gaza’s Hamam al-Yazeji. ‘Yesterday, we completely ran out of raw materials, and unfortunately we had to shut down the factory, sending home 250 workers,’ Yazeji said. Before the May fighting, he said, Pepsi Gaza was generally allowed to import needed materials. Israeli officials did not immediately provide comment on the tightened restrictions.” Also see: Siege forces Gaza’s Pepsi factory to close (Middle East Eye)

Marwan Barghouti is top of prisoner exchange list, says Hamas,

“Hamas has said that it will prioritise the release of senior Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti in any prisoner exchange deal with Israel. This was revealed after a meeting between the head of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement’s political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, and Fadwa Barghouti, the wife of the 62-year-old who is entering his 20th year in an Israeli prison. Haniyeh spoke with Barghouti’s wife in the presence of several prominent leaders of the movement earlier this month in Cairo. A senior Hamas source who was present at the meeting told Al-Monitor that Haniyeh has prioritised Barghouti’s release. Fadwa Barghouti received assurances that her husband will be at the top of the list in any future prisoner exchange deal with Israel.”

Palestinians Inside the Green Line

Police Bracing for Rioting in Israeli Cities in Case of Renewed Gaza Escalation,

“Israel Police is preparing for renewed rioting in Arab and mixed Jewish-Arab cities in the event of new hostilities between Israel and Gaza, with sources warning that the current calm is only ‘skin deep.’ The police has gotten treasury approval to buy riot-control equipment through a fast-track process, and has appealed the Public Security Ministry for more funding and manpower in order to meet the heightened risk of rioting within Israel’s borders. The police’s new working assumption is that any escalation with the Palestinians, especially if it involves the Temple Mount, will require bolstered police presence within Israel’s borders, police officials said.”

Fears grow for hunger striking and severely ill Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails amid accusations of neglect,

“The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club accused Israel of deliberately neglecting the health of Palestinian detainees, as a prisoner held without trial approached the 50th day of his hunger strike and the condition of another seriously ill detainee worsened.”

The Photos Exposing What Israel Is Trying to Hide,

“A show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art exposes in a thrilling yet disturbing way, from the air and the ground, abandoned [sic] villages, fenced-off lands and unrecognized locales.”

Palestinian Domestic Scene

Palestinian leadership looks to engage Israel, US as Hamas’ popularity climbs,

“Amid an uptick in popular support for Hamas following recent confrontations in East Jerusalem and the Israel-Hamas war, Fatah and the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah are looking for ways to stay relevant.”

US Scene

US denies asking PA to assemble negotiating team for peace talks,

“The Biden administration over the weekend denied that it had asked the Palestinian Authority to assemble a negotiating team for renewed peace talks with Israel. Last week, Channel 12 reported that the PA had assembled a negotiations team at Washington’s behest, and said that Ramallah was set to demand an extension of its authority in the West Bank as part of talks brokered by the US. ‘The premise of the story is not true. We didn’t ask the Palestinians to form a negotiating team,’ a senior State Department official told The Times of Israel.”

Trump’s former Treasury Secretary and Ambassador to Israel are looking to invest in the Startup Nation,

“The two former officials are establishing a Tel Aviv office for their fund Liberty Strategic, seeking to invest in cybersecurity, finance, network solutions, and other investments. The fund is raising capital from various sources, including companies from the Gulf countries, and is expected to manage billions of dollars. Friedman will serve as the fund’s Israel representative. In the past, there were rumors that Yossi Cohen, the former head of the Mossad, is expected to join the fund.”

Israeli Scene

Lapid Speaks With Democratic Majority for Israel - His First Call With U.S. Organization,

“Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday held a video call with the board of directors for Democratic Majority for Israel, the pro-Israel organization founded by veteran pollster and senior Lapid adviser Mark Mellman. In what the group described as Lapid’s first call with an American organization, DMFI said that Lapid ‘made clear that a strong U.S.-Israel relationship benefits both countries, is a core strategic asset for Israel, and requires a bipartisan approach, working with both Democrats and Republicans.’”

Knesset defense panel head calls for designating far-right Lehava a terror group,

“The head of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday urged Defense Minister Benny Gantz to designate the extremist Jewish Lehava group as a terror organization. Yesh Atid MK Ram Ben-Barak, a former Mossad intelligence agency deputy chief, appealed to Gantz to ‘exercise your authority as defense minister’ and kickstart a ‘swift and determined effort that will culminate with the designation of Lehava as a terror organization and outlaw the organization and its activists.’ In his appeal, the former Mossad deputy invoked Lehava’s support for extremist late rabbi Meir Kahane; the incitement to racism conviction of its current leader; and the recent banning of some of its members from major social media platforms over alleged incitement to violence.”

Coalition meeting on Palestinian family reunification ends without breakthrough,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday held consultations with senior ministers and the head of the Islamist party Ra’am to hammer out a compromise on the so-called ‘family reunification law,’ which blocks the automatic granting of citizenship to Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens. The meeting ended with no breakthrough on the issue, which is testing the new coalition composed of right-wing, centrist, left-wing, and Arab parties, Channel 12 reported on Monday night. The parties agreed on the importance of coalition unity, but failed to resolve the deadlock on this specific issue, the network said.”


Also see:

Tempers flare at controversial 'apartheid' conference in Knesset,

“A controversial conference in the Knesset on Tuesday with the title ‘After 54 years: Between occupation and apartheid’ has caused a firestorm. A heated exchange took placed during the conference between MKs Aida Touma-Suleiman and Ofer Cassif from the Joint Arab List and Otzma Yehudit lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir. At one point, Cassif compared Ben Gvir, who is considered by many as one of the most right-wing MKs in the current Knesset, to animal feces and said he was a fascist. Ben-Gvir shot back, saying, ‘all of you are terrorists,’ referring to the Joint Arab List’s anti-Zionist agenda.” Also see: ‘Terrorist,’ ‘fascist’: MKs hurl insults at Knesset ‘occupation-apartheid’ event (Times of Israel)

Spiritual leader of Haredi party opposes West Bank settlements, grandson says,

“A senior ultra-Orthodox rabbi and spiritual leader of the United Torah Judaism party opposes Jews living in West Bank settlements on the grounds that it is a provocation to Arabs, his grandson said, in a report screened by the Kan public broadcaster…’The rabbi has no problem with left or right. His position really isn’t to the right on the matter of the Land of Israel,’ said the younger Kanievsky of his grandfather, referring to the Jewish nationalist ideology that all of biblical Israel should be part of the Jewish state. ‘Quite the opposite,’ he continued, ‘the rabbi repeatedly says to not provoke the Arabs and not to live in settlements.’”


PA: add Israel to UN 'list of shame' for violating children's rights,

“The prime minister of the Palestinian Authority called on Monday for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to add Israel to the ‘list of shame’ over its violations of children’s rights, Anadolu has reported. Mohammad Shtayyeh told his weekly Cabinet meeting in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah that Israel had killed many Palestinian children during the past two months alone.”

Egypt, EU Coordinate on Reviving Palestinian-Israeli Peace Negotiations,

“Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met on Sunday with EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process Sven Koopmans amid the Arab nation’s continued efforts to revive internationally-supported negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. ‘Receiving Koopmans in Cairo, Shoukry affirmed Egypt’s aspiration to continue cooperation with the EU during the coming period to push forward the path for peace in the Middle East,’ the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement. Their meeting was held a month after Israel and Palestinian factions agreed on an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. ‘Egypt will continue its efforts to consolidate the ceasefire in Gaza and to achieve the desired calm and stability,’ the statement confirmed, adding that Cairo will also support reconstruction efforts and meeting the development needs of Palestinians.”

Top Indonesian Diplomat Says Country Not Considering Relations With israel,

“Following the Israeli ambassador to Singapore’s remark that Israel is interested in establishing ties with Muslim nations in Southeast Asia, a top Indonesian diplomat stated that his country will not consider doing so until the Palestinian issue is settled. Abdul Kadir Jailani, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s Director General of Asia Pacific and Africa, said that peace is ‘Indonesia’s main focus at this time, and we hope for the revival of the peace process,’ Turkish media outlet Anadolou Agency reported.”