Top News from Palestine & Israel: June 24, 2021

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Dissident Dies in Palestinian Authority Custody, Family Claims He Was Beaten,

A Palestinian man who was a relentless critic of the Palestinian Authority and its leaders died Thursday morning after being arrested in his home before dawn by Palestinian security forces. The family of Nizar Banat, originally from the southern West Bank town of Dura, says that he was severely beaten by the Palestinian forces during his arrest. Rumors emerged on Thursday early morning that he had been evacuated to a hospital, and the Hebron District Bureau announced Banat’s death a short while later. On Palestinian social media, he is being declared a “shahid,” or martyr.


Banat, a former member of the Fatah movement, has been repeatedly arrested by the Palestinian Authority for his sharp criticism of its leadership in Facebook posts and videos. He accused them of corruption, as well as abandoning and profiteering off of Palestinian national interests in return for personal benefit and wealth. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced the Palestinian Authority would initiate a commission of inquiry into the circumstances of Banat’s death, but demonstrations still sprung up in Hebron and the Ramallah area. Posters circulating on social media compared Banat to Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in 2018 in the country’s Turkish consulate.


Palestinian activists who criticize the PA report that its security apparatuses are exerting more pressure against them in an attempt to silence them, and that many have been arrested or called into meetings to be rebuked in past weeks. Earlier this week, Issa Amro, an activist and resident of Hebron, was also arrested by the PA after writing a critical social media post; he was released the next day.” 


Also see: 

Palestinian Authority critic Nizar Banat dies in PA custody, UN demands investigation,

The United Nations Middle East peace envoy, Tor Wennesland, said on Twitter he was alarmed and saddened by the death, and called for a transparent investigation….The European Union delegation to the Palestinians said on Twitter it was “shocked and saddened” by the death. A “full, independent and transparent investigation should be conducted immediately,” it added.” See also “EU local statement on the death of activist Nizar Banat” (The Office of the European Union Representative (West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA)) 

“A tragedy for Palestine. Nizar Banat.” ,

A tragedy for Palestine. Nizar Banat, a leading critic of the Palestinian Authority, a candidate for the legislative council, and a loving father was arrested by the PA security forces this AM, and was later announced dead at the Hebron Hospital. PA security forces had arrested, threatened, and beaten him over the last years. They had fired live bullets at his home with his wife and kids inside.  President Abbas is running an authoritarian regime and his forces are sending a threatening message to all critics. I’ve known Nizar for 10 years. He loved Palestine endlessly. He was a beautiful speaker, who mastered arabic poetry. He was a brave soul who, despite arrests and abuse would never allow anyone to break him. Nizar’s family said he was beaten badly by 20 members of Mahmoud Abbas’ security forces when he was arrested. President Abbas has proven again he is nothing but a subcontractor for Israel’s occupation. This murder will not pass.”

Palestinians protest death of activist Nizar Banat in PA police custody,

Protesters took to the streets in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, facing police repression following the death of prominent critic of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Nizar Banat overnight while in the custody of PA forces….Many other slogans took direct aim at the PA and President Mahmoud Abbas, with chants including: “The people want the downfall of the regime”, and “Leave, leave Abbas.” PA forces hit demonstrators with batons and fired tear gas and stun grenades in Ramallah.”

Prime Minister orders formation of committee to investigate death of a citizen in Hebron,

“The General Political Commissioner and spokesman for the security services, Major General Talal Dweikat, said today that Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has ordered the immediate formation of an impartial investigation committee to look into the death of Nizar Banat after his arrest by the security forces earlier this morning in his house in Hebron. Dweikat said, in a phone conversation with WAFA, that there is no objection to the participation of human rights institutions in the investigation committee, stressing that the government is ready to take any measures that result from the findings of the committee.” Also see “Hebron’s governor issues statement on death of a citizen in Hebron” (WAFA) 

Occupation / Annexation / Human Rights / Apartheid

Reality of a West Bank Outpost: Four Dead Palestinians and a Drone Spraying Tear Gas,

The protest around the illegal outpost of Evyatar has claimed four lives in six weeks. Palestinians on whose lands the outpost was built tell of armed civilians walking amidst Israeli soldiers.” Also see “Meretz MKs in Evyatar: This outpost must be demolished” (Haaretz)

Israel greenlights controversial project in Hebron’s mosque,

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved on June 10 the implementation of a project to install an electric elevator and build a road to facilitate access for settlers with special needs to the Ibrahimi Mosque (the Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hebron in the southern West Bank. The project entails seizing the lands surrounding the mosque.” See also “Humanitarianism Hebron Style,” a report on this project by Emek Shaveh.

Under Bennett, Israel Approves Construction in West Bank for First Time in Six Months,

For the first time in over six months, construction plans in West Bank settlements have been approved by the relevant subcommittee of the Israeli military’s Civil Administration in the West Bank…At issue are 31 zoning plans containing a small number of housing units, or facilities such as a park and a commercial center in the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim east of Jerusalem. Eighteen of the plans have received final approval. Construction has been approved in settlements such as Alfei Menashe, Elkana, Havat Sde Bar and Yitzhar.”

Dozens of Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa complex in Jerusalem ,

The Islamic Endowment Department in Jerusalem said in a brief statement that 76 settlers broke into the flashpoint compound under the protection of Israeli police. More settlers are expected to enter the site later in the afternoon.”

Israeli forces detain 11 Palestinians in the West Bank,

“Israeli forces overnight and Thursday detained 11 Palestinians, including former prisoners, during a wide-scale arrest operation in several areas in the occupied West Bank, according to sources.”

Gaza Strip

I was waiting for my turn to be bombed,

“Zahra Shaikha has amended her diary of life during Israel’s 11-day attack on Gaza with her feelings since the fighting. The result reflects her fragmented reality….Editor’s Note: The article is part of our series Gaza Diaries which shares firsthand accounts of Palestinians who lived through the 11-day Israeli attack on Gaza in May 2021, and are now dealing with its aftermath. You can read the entire series here.”

Israel to Expand Gaza Fishing Zone, Allow in Raw Materials, in Light of Calm,

“A spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit announced on Thursday that due to the calm security situation over the past week, they have decided to expand the designated fishing area for Gazan fishermen from six to nine nautical miles.”

U.S. Scene

Biden administration says it’s pushing Ramallah to reform terror payment policy,

The Biden administration is committed to pushing the Palestinian Authority to reform its welfare policy that includes payments to security prisoners and families of Palestinians killed while carrying out terror attacks, a senior State Department official told The Times of Israel.”

Americans disapprove of how Biden is handling Israeli-Palestinian conflict, poll finds,

More Republicans are saying Biden should be more supportive of Israel, while more Democrats want better backing for the Palestinians, according to a poll published Wednesday….Asked “Is the U.S. giving too much support or not enough support to the Israelis,” 39% of respondents said his support was “about right,” while 29% said Biden was too supportive and 30% said he was not supportive enough. The same question asked about the Palestinians found 37% saying the president’s support was “about right,” 25% saying he was too supportive and 32% saying he was not supportive enough. Democrats and Republicans differed substantially over who deserved greater support, with 49% of Republicans saying Biden did not support Israel enough and 51% of Democrats claiming the president came up short in his backing of the Palestinians.”

Meeks details plans for committee’s Israel trip,

“An upcoming congressional delegation to Israel will be an opportunity for legislators to “be focused on support for Israel and its security and at the same time focused on the humanitarian concerns of the Palestinians,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who is leading the delegation, told Jewish Insider on Wednesday….Meeks said he hopes to hear how the U.S. can help keep Israel safe and address Palestinians’ humanitarian concerns. “We’ve got to try to figure out how to move forward with a two-state solution,” Meeks said, adding that he sees the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states, as “a window of strong opportunity to have change.””

Opinion // For Democrats, it’s OK to agree to disagree on Israel,

“Harsh criticism of Israel may be difficult to hear; we may not like some of the language used to describe Israeli policies. But that doesn’t automatically make it antisemitic…We must also learn not to automatically label anti-Zionists as antisemites. Anti-Zionism is not necessarily antisemitic any more than opposition to a Palestinian state necessarily derives from hatred of Palestinians. We are Zionists, and we believe in the Jewish people’s right to a homeland. At the same time, there are those who oppose Zionism because they hold it writ large responsible for the occupation of and systemic discrimination against Palestinians.”

This organization was supposed to unite Jews. A debate over Black Lives Matter may fuel its demise.,

“The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the grassroots-driven community relations network, is in talks about its future with the Jewish Federations of North America, the umbrella body for the federations network….Such a move would end JCPA’s 75-year history of consensus-driven civil rights advocacy and leave standing a single voice that is deeply beholden to wealthy donors to speak on behalf of Jews on national issues….Some of the insiders say the trigger for the JFNA’s effort to effectively take over the JCPA came in August, when the JCPA signed an open letter in The New York Times declaring “Black Lives Matter” along with some 600 Jewish organizations. Others say the talks already were underway. The ad infuriated some federation officials, who thought it was reckless to endorse a movement despised by Republicans and has been accused of anti-Israel politics….The national Jewish establishment, however, was wary of the movement ever since the Movement for Black Lives, an activist group that represents some but not all groups under the BLM umbrella, called Israel an apartheid state and accused it of genocide. Since then, a number of BLM movement leaders have been harshly critical of Israel, drawing parallels between the Palestinian struggle and their own.”

Israeli Scene

Has the Strategic Affairs Ministry achieved its goals?,

The ministry, created in 2006, has been phased out. It had different iterations over the years, coordinating intelligence and diplomatic information on the Iranian threat at first, and from 2015 onward was dedicated to countering delegitimization and boycotts of Israel. Now, Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll is responsible for incorporating that work into the Foreign Ministry.”

Israel PM Bennett nets millions from Payoneer SPAC offering,

“Estimates have the 49-year-old Bennett’s capital at NIS 30 million (over $9 million) most of which he earned in 2005 after selling Cyota, the high-tech company he co-founded in 1999. Bennett is expected to net several more millions in the coming weeks thanks to an investment he made in fintech company Payoneer 13 years ago, before entering Israeli politics.”

Three Arabs Charged With Brutal Beating of Jewish Driver in Mixed City,

“Three Arabs from Acre were indicted Thursday for brutally beating a Jewish man during last month’s riots in the mixed Jewish-Arab city in northern Israel. The charges against two of the defendants were designated as terrorist acts, which allows the length of the sentencing to be doubled.”

Opinion | Israel's Cruel Citizenship Law Is Rotten, Racist and Unredeemable,

“For 18 years, Israeli governments have backed a law built on faulty security arguments, explicit demographic engineering and pure human suffering. The Bennett coalition seems set to prolong ruining Palestinian and Israeli lives.”


Iran nuclear centrifuge facility substantially damaged in attack - sources,

“A sabotage operation against one of the buildings of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) caused major damage – despite Iranian denials, The Jerusalem Post learned on Wednesday night. Although Iran has claimed throughout the day that the sabotage failed and caused no damage or casualties, the Post has been given strong indications otherwise, though it has no way to independently confirm.” See also “Iran Atomic Agency Says It Thwarted Attack on a Facility” (New York Times)

US set to delay next round of Iran talks to hear new Israeli position,

“The US is seeking to extend the time between rounds of indirect nuclear talks with Iran, in order to talk to the new Israeli government more about its position….The new government plans to send experts to Washington to discuss ways to better enforce the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’s limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, including which sanctions to keep intact as some will be removed if the US returns to the deal. This is a sharp departure from former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy, as he blocked any dialogue about the Biden administration’s plan to reenter the JCPOA.” See also “Bennett: Israel consulting allies on Iran, but we will protect ourselves” (Jerusalem Post)

Israel, Jordan try to rebuild ties, trust after Netanyahu,

Jordan is yet to react to the June 13 formation of a new Israeli government that ended Benyamin’s Netanyahu’s 12-year hold on power. Under Netanyahu, relations between the two neighbors, who had signed a peace treaty 26 years ago, had dipped to their worst level. The decline was not restricted to political issues but economic areas as well….Newly appointed Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, also the alternate prime minister under his agreement with Bennett, called his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, on June 18, and discussed the importance of relations between the countries on both the political and security level and decided to stay in continuous contact, cooperate and to meet soon. No such call was made with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.”

Scoop: Sudan asks U.S. for help talking to Israel,

“The Biden administration is urging the Israeli government to start engaging with Sudan’s civilian leaders, rather than just the military, as part of the normalization process between the countries, Israeli officials tell me.”

Honduras opens embassy in Jerusalem, 4th country to do so,

“Honduras on Thursday opened its embassy in contested Jerusalem, becoming the fourth country to follow the U.S. move under former president Donald Trump to relocate its chief diplomatic mission in Israel from Tel Aviv.”

A Grandson of Palestinian Immigrants Could Be Chile’s Next President, and These Jews Are Worried,

He’s a communist of Palestinian origin known for his fierce animosity to Israel and open hostility to the Jewish community – and if the latest polls are correct, Daniel Jadue could become Chile’s next president….Gorodischer, 58, noted that the presidential candidate has made past statements accusing Jews of controlling the media in Chile and of dual loyalty because of their attachment to Israel. “This is the type of talk that creates antisemitism,” he says….With more than 400,000 citizens of Palestinian origin, Chile is home to the largest Palestinian community in the world outside of the Middle East. The grandson of Palestinian immigrants from the West Bank city of Beit Jala, Jadue is the first member of the local Palestinian community, which is almost exclusively Christian, to seek the highest office in his country. He has the backing of Chile’s increasingly strong far left.”