Top News from Palestine & Israel: May 19, 2021

What We’re Reading


Ceasefire elusive as Israel continues to pound Gaza: Live,

“Israeli fighter jets continued to pummel the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Wednesday, flattening residential buildings and killing at least four Palestinians, including a journalist. The latest raids came as Palestinian groups launched more rockets towards cities in southern Israel. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Earlier, Israeli forces shot dead four other Palestinians and wounded scores more during protests and a historic general strike in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.


At least 219 Palestinians, including 63 children, have been killed in Gaza since the latest violence flared on May 10. About 1,500 Palestinians have been wounded. Twelve people in Israel have died, including two children, while at least 300 Israelis have been wounded.”


See also: 

  • “Diplomatic pressure mounts for a cease-fire as Israel, Hamas continue attacks” (Washington Post)
  • “AP source: US encouraging Israel to wind down Gaza offensive” (AP)
  • “Israeli air raid kills Palestinian journalist in his Gaza house” (Al Jazeera)
  • “Gaza suffers $244m in losses due to Israel bombs, report says” (MEMO)

Sirens sound in cities in Haifa area; rockets apparently fired from Lebanon,

Sirens have sounded in cities in Israel’s north, in the area of Haifa and its surroundings, including Shfaram, Acre and the Krayot region. Israeli and Lebanese media report that four rockets appear to have been fired from Lebanon. Two were intercepted and two hit open areas.”


See also: 

  • “IDF believes Palestinian faction behind Lebanon rocket attack” (ToI)
  • Israel shells Lebanon after failed launches toward Israeli territory -Israeli military” (Reuters

Netanyahu ‘determined’ to continue Gaza bombardment: Live,

“On the 10th day of the escalating violence, US President Joe Biden discussed the Gaza events with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he expected “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire”. However, Netanyahu said after the phone call with Biden that he was “determined” to continue bombarding Gaza until Israel’s “aim is met”.


See also:

  • “US expects ‘significant de-escalation today,’ Biden tells Netanyahu” (Al Monitor
  • “Netanyahu Tells Diplomats He Doesn’t Rule Out Reoccupying Gaza” (Haaretz)

France circulating draft of Security Council resolution calling for ceasefire,

The French mission to the United Nations has circulated a draft resolution to members of the Security Council that calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza terror groups, as countries on the top UN body continue their efforts to weigh in on the ongoing violence despite US objections. French President Emmanuel Macron’s office publicly announced the matter following a trilateral meeting he held earlier today with Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who is currently visiting Paris, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who joined via video conference…. Axios reported that the French move surprised the US mission, which has three times in the past week blocked joint statements with similar messaging, insisting that such measures would not help advance a ceasefire and that it wanted time for its own efforts to play out.” See also “Germany’s foreign minister to arrive in Israel to discuss ceasefire” (JPost)

Gaza War Deepens a Long-Running Humanitarian Crisis,

“The nine-day battle between Hamas militants and the Israeli military has damaged 17 hospitals and clinics in Gaza, wrecked its only coronavirus test laboratory, sent fetid wastewater into its streets and broke water pipes serving at least 800,000 people, setting off a humanitarian crisis that is touching nearly every civilian in the crowded enclave of about two million people. Sewage systems inside Gaza have been destroyed. A desalination plant that helped provide fresh water to 250,000 people in the territory is offline. Dozens of schools have been damaged or closed, forcing some 600,000 students to miss classes. Some 72,000 Gazans have been forced to flee their homes. And at least 213 Palestinians have been killed, including dozens of children. The level of destruction and loss of life in Gaza has underlined the humanitarian challenge in the enclave, already suffering under the weight of an indefinite blockade by Israel and Egypt even before the latest conflict.”

See also:

  • “Israel-Gaza: Fifty schools damaged by Israeli bombardment” (Middle East Eye);
  • “UNRWA launches $38 million Flash Appeal for Gaza and the West Bank”(WAFA)

Israel-Gaza: Hamas chiefs targeted as truce efforts stall,

“Israel said it had tried to kill Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif “several times”…The BBC’s Yolande Knell in Jerusalem says reports began circulating that a truce – brokered by Egypt – could come into force within days. However, these were quickly denied. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday: “We’re not standing with a stopwatch. We are taking care of the operation’s objectives.””


See also:

  • “Netanyahu says Israel could ‘conquer’ Gaza if ‘deterrence’ not achieved” (ToI)
  • Israel targets homes of Hamas commanders as Gaza fighting hits day 10″ (Axios)

Gaza children bearing the brunt in Israel-Hamas conflict,

“Children are being subjected to extensive trauma in Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip. For some, it’s trauma they’ve seen repeatedly throughout their short lives…According to Gaza health officials, at least 63 children are among the 217 Palestinians who have been killed in Gaza since the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas began on May 10.”


See also:

  • Eleven children receiving NRC trauma care killed in their homes by Israeli air strikes” (Norwegian Refugee Council
  • “These civilians died in Israeli raid on their homes in Gaza City” (Al Monitor)
  • “Four people killed, including pregnant woman and her toddler, in new Israeli airstrikes in Gaza” (WAFA)

Analysis | Gaza Lives Erased: Israel Is Wiping Out Entire Palestinian Families on Purpose,

“Fifteen Palestinian nuclear and extended families lost at least three, and in general more, of their members, in the Israeli shelling of the Gaza Strip during the week from May 10 through to Monday afternoon. Parents and children, babies, grandparents, siblings and nephews and nieces died together when Israel bombed their homes, which collapsed over them. Insofar as is known, no advance warning was given so that they could evacuate the targeted houses.


Wiping out entire families in Israeli bombings was one of the characteristics of the war in 2014. In the roughly 50 days of the war then, UN figures say that 142 Palestinian families were erased (742 people in total). The numerous incidents then and today attest that these were not mistakes: and that the bombing of a house while all its residents are in it follows a decision from higher up, backed by the examination and approval of military jurists.”

As a doctor in Gaza, these have been the most difficult days of my life,

“It’s endless. There are dozens of wounded children and women. Throughout this war, many civilians — not armed resistance fighters or military personnel — came to our hospital. We saw entire families, like the al-Masri family, simply being wiped off the face of the earth. I do not know what the Israeli army is aiming for, but here, in this hospital, I see the results: civilians are dying inside their homes.”

West Bank / Jerusalem / Inside of ‘48 Israel

Unparalleled growth in attacks and violence against Arabs in Israel, says rights group,

“Violence against Arabs in Israel has been on the rise recently as the police have repeatedly abused and overlooked abuses against the minority during the past few days, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said today in a statement, expressing serious concern.”

Palestinian citizens of Israel fired for participating in general strike,

“”Hundreds” of Palestinian citizens of Israel have received WhatsApp messages from their Israeli employers firing them from their jobs after participating in a general strike on Tuesday that was followed by millions of Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel….The karameh strike – “dignity strike” in Arabic – was called on Tuesday across historic Palestine to show Palestinian unity amid ongoing Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip and violent crackdowns on Palestinian protesters elsewhere.”

Israel transfers Marwan Barghouti to maximum-security Ayalon prison,

“According to the Palestinian Authority’s Prisoner Affairs Commission, Barghouti was placed in solitary confinement in Hadarim Prison before being transferred to Ayalon as a punishment for encouraging the Palestinian struggle against Israeli settler-colonialism and occupation.

More than 1800 Palestinians detained by Israeli since recent aggression, says PPS,

“The number of Palestinians detained by Israeli forces since the recent aggression and escalation in Palestine has reached more than 1800, including minors, women, wounded and sick people, the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said today. It said in a statement that the current rate of arrests constitutes the highest rate since 2015, in terms of numbers of detainees and the time period in which they took place. According to the statement, more than 900 Palestinian citizens of Israel have been detained in Arab towns in Israel since May 9, while in the West Bank and Jerusalem since the beginning of last April, more than 900 people have been detained, some of them are held in Israeli hospitals where they were admitted after being severely beaten by the Israeli occupation forces.”

Second Palestinian-Israeli dies of wounds sustained from Israeli forces' gunfire,

“A second Palestinian citizen of Israel has died today in hospital of wounds sustained after he was shot by Israeli forces in the town of Umm al-Fahem inside Israel last week, according to Israeli medical sources. They confirmed that Muhammad Kiwan, 17, who was shot in the head last Wednesday during protests in Umm al-Fahem against the Israeli aggression in East Jerusalem and against Gaza, has died of his wounds.”

Jewish Man Succumbs to His Wounds After Being Attacked by Arabs in Central Israel,

“Yigal Yehoshua, a 56-year-old resident of Lod who was hit by stones thrown by Arab rioters in the city, died of his wounds on Monday in Shamir Medical Center in Tel Aviv.”

Palestinian Mobilization: News & Analysis

In Show of Unity, Palestinians Strike Across West Bank, Gaza and Israel,

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel stopped work for the day on Tuesday, as did other Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and in Gaza, protesting violence against Arab Israelis, the unfolding Israeli military campaign targeting Hamas militants in Gaza and the looming eviction of several families from their homes in East Jerusalem. Streets were deserted in Arab areas across both Israel and the occupied territories, as shopkeepers shuttered stores along the waterfront in Jaffa, in central Israel; the steep roads of Umm el-Fahm, an Arab town in northern Israel; and West Bank cities such as Hebron, Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah.”

Live blog: Palestinians stage general strike across historic Palestine ,

“Today, Palestinians across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory are staging a historic general strike to protest Israeli strikes in Gaza and aggression in Jerusalem. It is the first general strike uniting all Palestinians since 1936.”


See also:

  • The awakening of Palestinian citizens of Israel” (The New Arab
  • “‘We are united as a people’: Palestinians celebrate a historic strike, urge supporters to ‘keep momentum going’” (Mondoweiss

A New Generation Is Taking Control of the Palestinian Narrative,

“Their entire lives, as these young Palestinians witness and experience both physical and structural violence compounded with the generational trauma endured by their parents and grandparents, they’ve been told to wait: Behave yourselves, and the international community will reward you, maybe, someday, with something resembling a state. Eventually. Last week, Palestinians in this new generation, many in their early 20s, grew tired of waiting…In the process, Palestinians seemed to reject their inherent separation, codified by colored ID cards and license plates that signify different levels of freedom and access between the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Israel inside the Green Line….all the United States, still exercise significant power in the region and have shown, including under the Biden administration, a steadfast commitment to defending Israeli actions and shielding them from any accountability, while continuing to supply Israel with more military aid. Yet if Palestinians can continue to coalesce around the shared goal of liberation, regardless of their geographic location or citizenship status, this new generation of activism can potentially lead to changes in local dynamics across Palestine and Israel, as well as bring in more global support for their cause.”

When Palestine Shook,

“But the truth is, this moment is different. And it may prove a transformational one in the Palestinian struggle for freedom….as Palestinians took to the streets in recent weeks, defiantly raising their national flags and chanting against their subjugation, Israelis awoke to the reality that for Palestinians, the divisions between Gazans, residents of the West Bank and Palestinian citizens of Israel do not exist. Palestine is not “over there” but is everywhere around them. With their bodies and their feet, Palestinians were acting out the lines of the famed Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish: “I am from here. And here I am. I am me. And here is here.” They have reasserted that they are all Palestinians, with one flag and one struggle.”

How Israeli policies to fragment Palestinians led to a collective uprising,

Suddenly, it seemed, Palestinians under Israel’s different regimes of repression rose up in anger, raising the same banners, speaking the same language, and connecting over manufactured divides that many thought had succeeded in making them separate and disconnected communities. The protests both captivated international audiences and caught Israeli politicians by surprise, but this collective moment of Palestinian anger was a long-time coming.”

U.S. Policy

Breaking News: AOC to Introduce Resolution Blocking Bomb Sale to Israel,

“Amidst Israel’s devastating assault on Gaza, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan, and Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib are preparing to introduce a resolution that would block the United States’ planned $735 million sale of bombs to Israel, according to an early draft of the legislation obtained by Jewish Currents…. “At a time when so many, including our President, support a ceasefire, we should not be sending ‘direct attack’ weaponry to Prime Minister Netanyahu to prolong this violence. It is long past time to end the US policy of unconditional military arms sales, particularly to governments that have violated human rights,” read an email from Ocasio-Cortez’s office obtained by Jewish Currents that called on her congressional colleagues to support her bill.


In addition to Ocasio-Cortez, Pocan, and Tlaib, co-sponsors include Reps. Cori Bush, Andre Carson, Pramila Jayapal, Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley. Organizations backing the bill include IfNotNow, Center for Constitutional Rights, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Jewish Voice for Peace, Churches for Middle East Peace, and Defense for Children International–Palestine.”

Top Democrat won’t urge delay of $735m sale of precision missiles to Israel,

“US House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Gregory Meeks will not be sending the White House a letter asking to delay a $735 million sale of precision-guided missiles to Israel, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday. “Chairman Meeks has indicated that he’s going to [instead] pursue discussions with the administration on this,” Hoyer said….“The Chairman is making it clear that otherwise routine arms sales will be subject to close scrutiny and oversight under his Chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” the spokesperson added.” See also “Democrats abandon plan to delay Israel arms sale amid Gaza onslaught” (Middle East Eye

Source: U.S. helped avert Israeli ground invasion of Gaza; hopes rise conflict could end soon,

“The Biden administration is increasingly hopeful that the deadly conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants is in its final stages, and U.S. officials are confident their mostly behind-the-scenes intervention helped avert an early Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.


The U.S. also has helped facilitate discussions between Egyptian officials and both sides of the conflict, including Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group that controls Gaza and has killed at least 10 Israelis through rocket fire over the past week. There are signs that Hamas is looking for a way out of the conflagration, the person familiar with the issue said.”

On a tarmac in Detroit, Representative Rashida Tlaib confronted Biden on U.S. support for Israel.,

“Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, confronted President Biden on Tuesday over his support for Israel amid its bombing campaign against Hamas in Gaza, urging him to stop enabling a government that she said was committing crimes against Palestinians, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the exchange.”

Gaza Flare-up: Biden Tells Netanyahu He Expects Immediate 'Significant De-escalation',

“U.S. President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that he expects to see an immediate significant de-escalation in the Gaza conflict, according to the White House.” See also “Publicly Supportive, Biden Is Said to Sharpen His Tone With Netanyahu in Private” (NYT)

House Democrats to Urge Blinken: Provide More Humanitarian Relief for Palestinians in Gaza,

“House Democrats are circulating a letter urging the Biden administration to provide additional humanitarian relief for Palestinians in Gaza and work to secure a cease-fire in the current round of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, Haaretz has learned.”

The Memo: In Democratic divide, two visions of Israel,

“There is a growing gulf between older, more centrist Democrats and younger, more progressive members of the party. It’s not just about the current conflict. It’s about two starkly different visions of Israel itself.

GOP seeks political opening amid tense Israel-Hamas fighting,

“Republicans trying to drive a wedge between Democrats and chip away at President Joe Biden’s support are zeroing in on the violence in the Middle East, laying blame on his administration and aiming to make his liberal critics the face of the party heading into the midterm elections….In focusing on the fighting in Gaza, the GOP is aiming to demonstrate staunch support for Israel, an issue of deep importance to many in the party’s base. At the same time, Republicans are hoping to draw a contrast with Democrats and leave them appearing divided.”


Mob Violence Against Palestinians in Israel Is Fueled by Groups on WhatsApp,

“The episode was one of dozens across Israel that the authorities have linked to a surge of activity by Jewish extremists on WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging service owned by Facebook. Since violence between Israelis and Palestinians escalated last week, at least 100 new WhatsApp groups have been formed for the express purpose of committing violence against Palestinians, according to an analysis by The New York Times and FakeReporter, an Israeli watchdog group that studies misinformation…While social media and messaging apps have been used in the past to spread hate speech and inspire violence, these WhatsApp groups go further, researchers said. That’s because the groups are explicitly planning and executing violent acts against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up roughly 20 percent of the population and live largely integrated lives with Jewish neighbors.”

Google employees call for company to support Palestinians and protect anti-Zionist speech,

Palestinians amid Israel’s deadly bombing campaign in Gaza…Now, members of the new organization are calling on Google to support freedom of expression internally — particularly around anti-Zionist viewpoints…They also want Google to terminate any business contracts which support “Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, such as the Israeli Defense Forces.”” 


Also see: 

  • “Google employees urge firm to support Palestinians: Report” (Al Jazeera)
  • “Google workers urge CEO to support Palestinians amid war on Gaza” (Middle East Eye)

Israel destroyed offices of more than 20 Palestinian media outlets in Gaza ,

“Quraiqea’s agency is just one of more than 20 Gazan media outlets razed by Israeli airstrikes in the past week. Much attention has been focused on the airstrikes that destroyed international media organizations’ Gaza offices, but local journalists bear enormous burdens of not only their work for the foreign press, but also to tell the stories of their neighbors and kin. Unlike international colleagues, Gazan journalists cannot leave, for lack of Israeli permission, and, without the protection afforded by global media, take on added risks just by dint of being Palestinians.”

YouTube pulls age restriction from Al Jazeera Arabic live stream,

“YouTube has added and later removed an age restriction to Al Jazeera Arabic’s live stream amid the channel’s ongoing coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict….“Al Jazeera Arabic’s live stream was briefly age-restricted because of graphically violent content, but the age-restriction was lifted after the graphic content was no longer present,” the statement said.”

Palestinian Journalist: Israeli Media Incites Mob Violence, Ignoring Settler Attacks,

“In Part 2 of our interview with Palestinian journalist and activist Rami Younis, he describes how Israeli media has contributed to mob violence in recent weeks….“We know that Israeli media, whenever there is another massacre in Gaza, whenever something is happening in Jerusalem, we know they start reciting the official party line of the Israeli government,” says Younis. “But what is happening now is more than dangerous.” “

Opinion: Israel’s attempts to silence journalists are not new. My colleagues and I faced IDF threats 40 years ago.,

“Even so, the AP put out a statement reminding President Biden, Congress and the American public that what the IDF did was “an incredibly disturbing development” and that its reporters only narrowly avoided “a terrible loss of life.” It has challenged the IDF is provide its evidence that “Hamas military intelligence assets” were in the building and using journalists as human shields. No evidence has been provided. But the IDF did achieve a critical goal. As the statement by AP president and chief executive Gary Pruitt said: “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza.””


EU, minus Hungary, calls for Israel-Palestine ceasefire,

“Foreign ministers of the European Union nations have called for a ceasefire to end days of violence in Palestine but failed to reach the unanimity that might give the EU leverage in peacemaking. Hungary, Israel’s closest ally in the bloc, declined to join the other 26 foreign ministers in calling for a truce on their video call on Tuesday, convened by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.” 


See also:

  • “Europe Calls for Immediate Cease-Fire in Israel-Palestinian Fighting” (NYT
  • “PM Shtayyeh to the EU Representative: Exert real pressure on Israel to stop its aggression” (WAFA)

Jordan king: Israel's repeated provocations against Palestinians led to escalation,

“Jordan King Abdullah II said Israel’s repeated provocative practices against the Palestinian people have led to the ongoing escalation and pushed the region towards more tension, the Royal Hashemite Court said in a statement….King Abdullah also pointed to his constant warnings of the repercussions of Israel’s violations in Jerusalem, especially against Al-Aqsa Mosque and Tel Aviv’s attempts to illegally displace the residents of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.”

Gaza onslaught pushing region in 'wrong direction': Saudi Arabia,

“Israel’s onslaught on Gaza is pushing the whole region “in the wrong direction,” Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said on Tuesday, calling for an end to the violence….The violence is “empowering the extremists”, he added.”

Turkey Says U.S. Diverting Gaze From Gaza by Attacking Erdogan,

“The State Department on Tuesday rebuked Erdogan over what it called “reprehensible” remarks he made while lashing out at the Biden administration over its support for Israel in the conflict…State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, “We call on Turkey to join the United States in working to end the conflict. Anti-Semitic language has no place anywhere.” He didn’t cite specific references, but Erdogan, after a cabinet meeting Monday, denounced Israel and its allies over the violence that erupted last week. He claimed that Austria, in its support of Israel, was trying to atone for the Holocaust by “making Muslims pay a price” for it. He called Israeli military attacks in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip a “massacre.””

Amnesty International: Israel displayed shocking disregard for lives of Palestinians in attacks that may amount to war crimes,

“Israeli forces have displayed a shocking disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians by carrying out a number of airstrikes targeting residential buildings in some cases killing entire families – including children – and causing wanton destruction to civilian property, in attacks that may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity, said Amnesty International today.”

Analysis // Long Reads

Opinion | Hamas Has Entered the Big Leagues,

“The army that the Hamas movement has built, its perseverance despite the blockade and the assassinations, its military capability of surprise and ability to put millions of Israelis in a state of fear, have brought it into the big leagues that regional and global politics must take into consideration…It is hard to believe that the senior leaders of Hamas and its military wing did not take into account the possibility that Israel would respond to their audacity with lethal blows many times greater that would cost the lives of many civilians, and not just the members of the Palestinian military organizations…Without a doubt Hamas entered, with its eyes wide open, a new campaign in which its ability to defend its citizens was nil. It knowingly uses its military capabilities and the international shock from the sight of the destruction, to advance its status as the political representative of the entire Palestinian people.”

Opinion: Israel has no coherent strategy for the Palestinians. The U.S. should push for a reset.,

“Israel stumbled into the current war in Gaza, and its military commanders are now doing their job of inflicting maximum pain on their adversary, Hamas. But there’s no sign of a coherent strategy that will bring long-term peace and stability any closer. That’s a problem that should worry Israel and its friends.”

Is Zionism the Problem? A new history of Matzpen and the anti-Zionist left in Israel,

Today, anti-Zionism, certainly on the left, is viewed as identical to being against Israel, that is, a repudiation of the State of Israel and the Jewish right of self-determination. In some circles anti-Zionism itself is considered antisemitism. But anti-Zionism was not always opposed to the State of Israel. In fact, in some circles in Israel, anti-Zionism, or the de-Zionization of Israel, was intended to save the State of Israel.”

This is not a conflict. This is apartheid,

For 73 years, Palestinians have borne the brunt of Israel’s settler colonial apartheid regime. Theirs is a struggle for freedom and rights. It is as simple as that.”