Top News from Palestine & Israel: June 23, 2021

What We’re Reading

Breaking News

Israel Approves Demolition of Palestinian Home after Attack,

“Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the decision to destroy the family home of a detained Palestinian accused of a deadly shooting. It rejected a petition by his estranged wife, who lives in the house with their children and says she knew nothing about the attack.”


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Video footage shows Israeli special police unit carrying out targeted killing,

“In the early morning hours of 25 May 2021, an Israeli Special Police Unit vehicle drove up and blocked a car just after Ahmad ‘Abdu (25) got into it, in the Palestinian neighborhood of Um a-Sharayet next to al Birah, in the West Bank. Today, B’Tselem published video footage in which officers are seen getting out of the vehicle and immediately firing several shots at the car. The apparently injured ‘Abdu opens the right door, at which point the officers surround the car, open several of its doors, apparently dragging ‘Abdu out, and then leave without extending him first aid. An Israeli Border Police statement claimed ‘Abdu had been killed as part of an “arrest operation”, but offered no explanation for the lethal shooting. Opening live fire at a person sitting in his car, without even trying to arrest him, is not an ‘attempted arrest’. It is a targeted killing.” Also see: Israeli police killed Palestinian who didn’t pose threat – B’Tselem (Jerusalem Post)



Sheikh Jarrah: Israeli far-right settlers raid house of Palestinian activist,

“Far-right settlers raided the home of a prominent Palestinian activist in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Jerusalem on Tuesday, according to a local news agency. The Quds News Agency reported that Bezalel Smotrich, a far-right member of the Knesset, was among a group of Israeli settlers who entered the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and threatened a number of families with expulsion. One of the house owners, Saleh Diab, told the agency that settlers – escorted by Israeli security services – tried to storm three houses belonging to his family, as well as the Kurd and Qasem families. He said the owners of the houses tried to respond with physical force. Mohammed el-Kurd, a prominent Palestinian activist, tweeted that the director of Nahalat Shimon, a US-based pro-settler organisation, had ‘invaded’ his home.”


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The money trail behind the Jerusalem eviction battle that sparked the latest Israeli-Palestinian violence, exposed,

“One of the triggers for the recent conflagration in East Jerusalem, which quickly spread across Israel, was an effort to evict Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Like so many real-estate cases over the so-called Green Line that delineates 1948 Israel from the West Bank territory it has occupied since the 1967 war, ownership questions are murky. Attempts to identify the owners of the company behind the purchase of these six homes – and the source of the company’s funds – leads to a complex tapestry of obscure overseas companies. So intricate is this tapestry that it is impossible to know for sure who financed the planned evictions that led to the violence. What is clear is that this real-estate project had millions of dollars in investments. Companies involved had links to Delaware and the Marshall Islands – corporate havens because of their low tax rates – as well as New Jersey, the Netherlands and Israel. Seymour Braun, a New York lawyer, is listed as an official in most of these companies on public records…Born in Toronto, Braun is in his late 60s and is a partner at the New York law firm Braun & Goldberg. The firm specializes in international tax law and trusteeships. In addition to several connections to the tapestry of companies linked to Sheikh Jarrah, Braun’s name has also appeared dozens of times in international documents leaked in recent years – including the Panama Papers. He is also listed as the director of various unrelated off-shore companies in places like Barbados and the Bahamas.”

Israeli police demolish house in Jerusalem neighborhood,

“The Israeli occupation authorities today demolished a Palestinian house in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Issawiya, according to local sources. They said that Israeli police and municipal crews escorted a crane into the neighborhood, where the municipal crews tore down the house, which belong to Mousa Haloulou, using stone sawing machines. Using the pretext of illegal building, Israel demolishes houses on a regular basis to restrict Palestinian expansion in occupied Jerusalem.”

The West Bank

Palestinian Authority arrests activist over online criticism,

“The Palestinian Authority arrested a prominent activist and held him overnight after he criticized its policies in a series of online posts and accused it of arresting another individual for political reasons. The PA, which has limited autonomy in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has come under intense criticism in recent weeks after canceling the first elections in 15 years and being largely sidelined during last month’s 11-day Gaza war. Issa Amro, an outspoken critic of both Israel and the PA who has been arrested by both in the past, said he was summoned for questioning by the PA’s cybercrimes unit late Monday. He said he was asked about a Facebook post in which he protested the arrest of a man linked to a political rival of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In the post, he said the PA should instead arrest “corrupt” people within its own ranks.” Also see: Hebron activist says he was arrested by PA over online criticism (Times of Israel)

7 arrested as Border Police demolish illegal West Bank Jewish outpost,

“Seven people were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of assaulting law enforcement officials as Border Police forces evacuated an illegal Jewish outpost in the West Bank. Several structures were demolished in Oz Zion, located between Jerusalem and Ramallah. There were no reports of injuries.    According to Kan news, one family and a small commune of some 20 youths were living in the outpost. Several people hurled objects at the forces and attempted to barricade themselves inside a building. Oz Zion has been demolished by the government and rebuilt by settlers numerous times in recent years, under the government of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” Also see: Bennett-Lapid gov’t carries out its first outpost evacuation (Arutz Sheva)

Settlers block major West Bank traffic artery to Palestinian traffic,

“Israeli settlers today blocked a major southern West Bank traffic artery to Palestinian traffic, according to local sources. They said that settlers blocked a section of the major Jerusalem-Hebron Road, close to the Neve Daniel colonial settlement, west of the city, to vehicles with Palestinian licensing plates. This came as scores of settlers spread across the Faghur agricultural area of al-Khader town, south of the city. Meanwhile, the municipality of Deir Istiya said in a press statement that Israeli settlers chopped down 10 olive trees and sabotaged two water tanks and an irrigation system belonging to Qassem Mansour, a farmer, in Wadi Qana, northwest of the West Bank district of Salfit.”


Also see:

Two Weeks On, Israel Police Yet to Begin Probing Alleged Settler Killing of Palestinian,

“’There’s no doubt that if the victim had been Jewish and the suspects Palestinian, there would already be people under arrest,’ human rights group’s CEO says, as police and victim’s brother offer clashing accounts.”

Israel to demolish Palestinian commercial stores west of Ramallah,

“Israeli forces today delivered demolition orders against four commercial structures in Deir Qaddis village, west of Ramallah city, according to local sources. They said that Israeli soldiers handed Ayman Staih an order, notifying him of their plan to tear down his four stores under construction within 96 hours as of the timing of the order delivery. Located almost 16 kilometers to the northwest of Ramallah city, Deir Qaddis has a population of some 2,600 and occupies a total area of 8,053 dunams….Israel has seized at least 2,735 dunams (34 percent) belonging to the village for the construction of three nearby colonial settlements, namely Mod‘in Illit, Nili and Na‘aleh, which strangle the village from the south and the north. Israel has also constructed a section of the apartheid wall on the village’s land, confiscating and isolating 4,272 dunams (accounting for 53 percent) for colonial settlement activities.”

Israel’s Demographic Warfare Wages on Both Sides of Green Line. With One Difference,

“…the demographic war and its bureaucratic weapons, do not recognize the Green Line, Israel’s 1967 borders. It’s also being waged against Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip enclaves. To this day, Israel controls the Palestinian population registry and decides who will receive a Palestinian ID card. Since it controls the borders, it also decides who will enter the West Bank or Gaza Strip, and for how long. This double control allows it to interfere in the family life of tens of thousands of people, and potentially even more, by refusing to grant permanent status to foreign nationals who are the spouses, parents or even children of residents of the territories – a process known as family reunification.”

Ariel University opens medical school in honor of Sheldon Adelson,

“A new building housing the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson School of Medicine was dedicated at Ariel University in Samaria, Tuesday. The modern building, which includes study areas and research labs, is also set to include a regional medical center with four operating rooms, a gastrointestinal imaging institute, and university clinics for paramedical professions, among others. Also on Tuesday, President Reuven Rivlin and Dr. Miriam Adelson were awarded honorary doctorates at a graduation ceremony at the school during which 40 students received their doctoral degrees.”


Gaza Strip

'This Is a Catastrophe'; One Out of Five Gazans Has No Access to Running Water,

“Earlier this month, we at Gisha, the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, held a Zoom call with engineer Maher Najjar, who has worked for Gaza’s Coastal Municipalities Water Utility for 22 years. We sought to understand what the territory’s immediate needs are and how we could help. ‘This is a catastrophe,’ he said. ‘We urgently need 5,000 different types of items to repair water systems and networks, but Israel isn’t allowing us to bring a single one of them into Gaza.’…Israel has a moral and legal obligation to ensure that Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants, half of them children, have everything they need to live a proper life. This obligation is intensified by the lethal strikes on thousands of homes, businesses, medical centers and civilian infrastructure. Yet instead of meeting its responsibilities to Gazans, Israel is cynically exploiting its control of the border crossings and leveraging Palestinians’ distress as a tool for political pressure. It reportedly even asked Egypt to prevent the entry of building materials needed for Gaza’s reconstruction via its own border crossing with Gaza.” Also see: Gaza: reconstruction should be excluded from political disputes, says NGO Network (Middle East Monitor)

Palestinians warn Gaza won't be silent until border restrictions eased,

“The Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday warned Israel against ‘procrastination’ in lifting the restrictions imposed on the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave and rejected prisoner swap proposals. The warning was issued after a meeting of leaders of various factions in the Gaza Strip to discuss the latest developments surrounding the truce that was reached last month between Israel and Hamas which ended the 11-day Gaza war.”


Also see:

Israeli observers see instability in Gaza truce, fear return to new round of violence,

“The current Israel-Hamas ceasefire is inherently unstable; remarkable developments would need to occur to prevent an eventual slide into a new round of violence, Israeli observers have said. A month-and-a-half after the latest conflict, “it is clear we are in an open-ended story—perhaps the first scene in a much longer campaign,” Col. (ret.) Michael Milshtein, head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, told JNS.”

After the nightmare of the Gaza massacre, what comes next?,

“The bombing was the worst I’ve experienced, but it can’t contain the Palestinian uprising that is showing the world the true face of Israel.” Also see: Gaza children deal with psychological trauma month after war (Al-Monitor)

Swathes of Land in Israel's South Sustained Extensive Damage Due to Gaza Rocket Fire, Arson Balloons,

“Some 13,050 dunams (3,260 acres) of nature reserves and farmland were set afire in Israeli areas around the Gaza Strip as a result of the ongoing security situation, according to a study conducted by an Israeli university. A study by the Remote Sensing Laboratory in Ben-Gurion University of the Negev found the fires scorched 7,570 dunams in nature reserves, 3,220 dunams in forests and 2,260 dunams in agricultural land.”

Palestinians Inside the Green Line

Gantz Signs Administrative Detention Order for Arab Citizen Over Rioting in Mixed City,

“Such detentions are rare for Israeli citizens and residents, but the number of imprisonments without trial has increased over the course of the fighting with Gaza last month.”

Israel bans Islamic Movement leader from praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque.,

“Israeli occupation police yesterday banned Member of the Higher Committee for Arabs of the Negev, Sheikh Osama Al-Uqbi, from praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque for one week, Arab48 reported. During this time, Sheikh Al-Uqbi will be under investigation and the ban could be extended, the news site added. Sheikh Al-Uqbi was questioned at Al-Qashlah Detention Centre in Jerusalem yesterday in the presence of his lawyer Khalid Zabarqeh. This came after he received a call summoning him last week, which he refused, saying an official letter would need to be sent to him ‘During the investigation, I was told that I am banned from praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque,’ Sheikh Al-Uqbi said.”

Palestinian Domestic Scene

From vaccines to protests, the Palestinian Authority keeps proving its irrelevance,

“We Palestinians have grown tired of undemocratic leaders who treat our cause as an administrative problem rather than a struggle for freedom.”


Connections Podcast Episode 6: The US Congress, Israel, and the Palestinians (Video),

“On Thursday, 17 June Jadaliyya co-editor Mouin Rabbani interviewed Lara Friedman about the role of the US Congress in formulating Washington’s policy towards Israel and the Palestinians. Existing and proposed legislation and its impact on US policy options is examined. This episode of Connections Podcast also discusses the significance of growing Congressional criticism of US support for Israel and its policies towards the Palestinians.”

Poll: Many Democrats want more US support for Palestinians,

“A new poll on American attitudes toward a core conflict in the Middle East finds about half of Democrats want the U.S. to do more to support the Palestinians, showing that a growing rift among Democratic lawmakers is also reflected in the party’s base. The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds differences within both the Democratic and the Republican parties on the U.S. approach toward Israel and the Palestinians, with liberal Democrats wanting more support for the Palestinians and conservative Republicans seeking even greater support for the Israelis…The poll shows Americans overall are divided over U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians. It also shows more Americans disapprove of President Joe Biden’s approach to the conflict than approve of it. Among Democrats, 51% say the U.S. is not supportive enough of the Palestinians. The sentiment jumps to 62% among Democrats who describe themselves as liberal. On the other hand, 49% of Republicans say the U.S. is not supportive enough of the Israelis, a number that rises to 61% among those who say they’re conservative.”

Top three goals of Israeli Chief of Staff Kochavi during US visit,

“Priorities include communicating intelligence assessments by the Israel Defense Forces on Iran’s nuclear program and professional concerns over a new nuclear deal, in addition to sharing key lessons from recent conflict with Hamas in Gaza.”

Why Israel’s move to CENTCOM matters,

“Moving Israel to the Pentagon’s Middle East command could lead to progress on the Abraham Accords, experts say.”

The Trilemma of Power, Aid, and Peacebuilding in the Israeli-Palestinian Context,

“On Dec. 21, 2020, the United States Congress passed the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act. The new law provides $250 million over five years to expand peace and reconciliation programs between Israelis and Palestinians as well as to support projects bolstering the Palestinian economy…The law has been lauded by a broad array of American organizations…yet Palestinian officials and civil society leaders, along with Palestinian rights advocates in the United States, have largely remained silent on the law. Why? It is not because they do not support peace and reconciliation or genuine economic development. Rather, the answer lies in a more fundamental question: Is reconciliation even possible in the context of military occupation and when none of the underlying causes of the conflict have been resolved?”

Saudi Operatives Who Killed Khashoggi Received Paramilitary Training in U.S.,

“The training, approved by the State Department, underscores the perils of military partnerships with repressive governments.”

Israeli Scene

Court approves rule to stop MKs from visits abroad funded by BDS groups,

“Israel’s High Court approved a Knesset committee on Tuesday that would prevent MKs from traveling abroad on trips sponsored by organizations that support boycotting Israel, according to a press release. A petition against the committee was submitted by Yousef Jabareen, a former MK for Hadash and the Joint List, with support from Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel in 2018, which was ultimately rejected by the court. The issue arose when Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a Jewish-American organization that supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, attempted to sponsor Jabareen’s trip to the United States for a round of lectures.”

Effort underway to outlaw Lehava as Jewish terror group,

“Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee MK Ram Ben Barak of Yesh Atid as well as Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev of Labor are seeking to outlaw the Jewish supremacist organization Lehava as a terror group.On Monday, Ben Barak sent a letter to Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit calling on them to utilize the terms of 2016 legislation to ban the extremist organization. Bar Lev met with Mandelblit on Monday to detail the request and advance the process of outlawing the group.”