Top News from Palestine & Israel: May 26, 2021

What We’re Reading

Gaza & Next Steps

Blinken visits Egypt, Jordan to support Israel-Hamas ceasefire,

“United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Jordan on the last leg of a regional tour to bolster a ceasefire reached last week between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian faction that runs the besieged Gaza Strip….The top US diplomat pledged millions in aid to rebuilding efforts in Gaza that he said the US would “ensure” would not benefit Hamas, with whom Washington does not have direct contact and labels a “terrorist organisation”.”

They were only children ,

“During 11 days of fighting this month between Israel and Hamas, at least 66 children under age 18 were killed in Gaza and 2 in Israel, according to initial reports. These are the children who died.”

Palestinian groups slam UNRWA director’s comments on Gaza attacks,

“Palestinian civil society organisations have condemned comments made by a senior figure at the UNRWA about the 11-day Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip as “misleading and dangerous”. Matthias Schmale, the director of operations for the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, told Israel’s Channel 12 on Sunday that the Israeli military’s strikes on Gaza appeared to be carried out with “sophistication” and “precision”.” See also: “Gaza survivors recount hours trapped under rubble” (Al Monitor)

Hamas Gaza chief threatens to renew fighting if Israel ‘violates’ Al-Aqsa ,

““What has happened is but a drill for what will come if Israel violates the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the terror group’s Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar, said on Wednesday, days after a ceasefire entered effect. “The occupation must know — Al-Aqsa has men who will defend it.””

More on Hamas:

Analysis | The Rockets Hamas Fired at Israel Reflect the Success of Gaza's Military Industry,

“During the recent round of fighting in Gaza, Hamas chalked up one significant operational achievement: the huge number of rockets and mortars fired into Israel. The group’s attempts to attack Israel through tunnels were a total failure, as were its efforts to whip out wild cards like attacks using drones of both the air and sea varieties.

But in the realm of high-trajectory fire, there was a marked improvement. Although the projectiles caused relatively few Israeli casualties, it seems the balance of power between the two sides has somewhat changed. This accomplishment has won the recognition of professionals on the Israeli side. Hamas, and to some extent Islamic Jihad, have succeeded in developing a local military industry in the Gaza Strip, and this happened during the period when Egypt, spurred by Israel, had almost completely sealed its border with the Strip and had reduced the scope of arms smuggling to a minimum.”

Jerusalem & West Bank

Israeli court delays ruling on expulsion of families in Silwan,

“An Israeli court has postponed its decision on an appeal lodged by Palestinian families facing forced displacement from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem’s Silwan district.”

See also

District Court Hearing [Today] on the Appeals of 7 Families Facing Eviction from Batan al-Hawa, Silwan ,

May 26, a hearing will take place at the Jerusalem District Court on the appeals of seven families from Batan al-Hawa, Silwan, challenging the Magistrate’s Court decision from last year which authorized their eviction in favor of settlers. The Nasser Rajabi and Abed al-Fatah Rajabi families (7 households), numbering 44 individuals, are among approximately 84 families in Batan al-Hawa currently facing eviction lawsuits, which place some 700 Palestinians of one community at risk of mass displacement…In both Batan al-Hawa and Sheikh Jarrah, roughly 150 families, amounting to over 1000 individuals, are under threat of wide-scale dispossession as a result of eviction claims initiated by settler groups.”

“Jerusalem Police Officer Who Shot 16-year-old Palestinian Suspended After Footage Emerges” ,

“Israel’s police commissioner ordered Tuesday the suspension of an officer who shot a teenage girl in the back during a recent crackdown on unrest in Sheikh Jarrah, after a new video footage of the incident emerged….On Tuesday last week four police officers were standing across from the gate that leads to the home of the Kiswani family in the East Jerusalem neighborhood when Mohammed Kiswani and his 16-year-old daughter Jana emerged to see what was happening. Told to return inside by the police, they had turned and reentered their courtyard when one of the police officers fired his weapon at them without aiming, hitting Jana in the back with a sponge-tipped bullet.”

Police Arrest East Jerusalem Resident for Giving Them the Finger,

“Israeli police arrested a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem for giving them the middle finger on Tuesday, though the suspect denies the allegations. The suspect, a 30-year-old man, performed the gesture while he was driving through the Old City of Jerusalem…Judge Sharon Lary-Bavly of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court said…”these are difficult times, Jerusalem is burning and actions such as those of the defendant are capable of leading to anarchy, and for that reason it can be justified,” Lary-Bavly added….The suspect said that while in detention, police officers harshly beat him….”If they were to arrest everyone who had given the police the finger, half the country would be in detention,” the suspect’s lawyer said.

US to reopen Palestine mission in Jerusalem,

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken this morning announced that America will reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, to restore ties with Palestine that collapsed during former President Donald Trump’s tenure….Blinken said it would be “an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people”. However, he did not specify a date for its reopening. “We’re just beginning the process,” he said.”

Also see: 

Blinken reiterates US opposition to Israeli evictions in Sheikh Jarrah,

“US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tells the Palestinian Al-Ayyam newspaper that Washington is opposed to the looming Israeli evictions of several Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah….Blinken says the US is “very concerned” about the evictions, noting that the Palestinians in the homes in question have lived there for generations and that such steps by Israel — along with settlement building and home demolitions as well as incitement and payments to terrorists by Palestinians — distance the sides from a two-state solution.”

Who is Yaakov Fauci, the New Yorker squatting in Sheikh Jarrah?,

“”If I don’t steal it, someone else is going to steal it.” Those were the words of Yaakov Fauci, an Israeli settler squatting inside the Kurd family’s home in Sheikh Jarrah, in response to Mona el-Kurd, a Palestinian writer and a resident of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood. The video has since gone viral and became one of the catalysts for global attention on the imminent eviction of six Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah who are to be replaced by Israeli settlers…But who is Fauci, and what are his views? Middle East Eye takes a look at his Facebook page, which reveals support for Donald Trump, Covid and anti-vax conspiracy theories, and extreme statements against Palestinians.”

Israeli settlers attack shepherds, storm houses in Hebron-district village,

“Israeli settlers Wednesday morning attacked Palestinian shepherds and stormed their houses in Khirbet Zanuta village,  southwest of Hebron city, according to local sources. They confirmed that a group of settlers forced their way into the village, which forms a part of Adh-Dhahiriya town, physically assaulted shepherds and broke into houses in order to terrorize and expel them out of the area to seize their land for colonial settlement expansion.” Also see “Israeli settlers seize building to serve as nucleus of colonial outpost near Bethlehem” (WAFA) and “Paramedics suffocate as Israeli forces storm Red Crescent headquarters in Tubas” (WAFA)

‘48 Israel / Inside the Green Line

‘Any Arab Here Dies’: A Night of Terror, Minutes From Netanyahu’s Home,

““They had baseball bats and planks, and were walking in the middle of the intersections saying ‘Look for Arabs, look for Arabs,’ Naaman says. When they identified people they believed to be Arabs, they began smashing cars with the drivers escaping in terror, he adds. Others began patrolling the sidewalks, looking for Arab pedestrians, and some headed toward the gas station….“There were hundreds of people, who came from our area and from far away – and they were much better organized,” she recalls. “They knew what they were doing.”… Mother and son, still shaken, spoke to Haaretz a week after the incident on a bench in front of the gas station. Next to them sat the newly hired security guard they had brought in to protect their workers who, after three days off to recover from their ordeal, were back at the pumps serving customers. What has made the events of May 12 particularly surreal in retrospect, they say, is that no one has spoken of it since. It was not mentioned on the national news…” See also: “After Arab-Jewish violence erupts inside Israeli towns, a divided country may never be the same” (Washington Post)

Dozens of Jewish Israelis Attacking an Arab Were Caught on Camera. Only Six Were Arrested,

Their faces can be seen clearly. What they’re doing is also clear. Seemingly, the people involved could easily be identified. Yet two weeks after Said Moussa was attacked and badly injured on the Bat Yam promenade, only six arrests have been made – two following the report in Haaretz. Only three indictments have been served so far.” See also “Israeli Police Arrest Hundreds of Arabs in Crackdown Leaders Warn Could Reignite Tensions” (Haaretz

The Myth of Coexistence in Israel,

“The truth is that the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Jewish majority of the country have never coexisted. We Palestinians living in Israel “sub-exist,” living under a system of discrimination and racism with laws that enshrine our second-class status and with policies that ensure we are never equals. This is not by accident but by design. The violence against Palestinians in Israel, with the backing of the Israeli state, that we witnessed in the past few weeks was only to be expected….Indeed, our mere existence nettles Israel’s ruling elites, who insist on preserving the Jewishness of the state. My father, who is 82, still waits for the day when he does not have to live in fear that we will be evicted from our homeland. To be a Palestinian in Israel is to wait for the day when Israel will decide to forever rid itself of you.”

Palestinian citizen of Israel forced to demolish his house in Tayibe,

“The Israeli authorities today forced a Palestinian citizen of Israel to demolish his own house in the Palestinian city of Tayibe in central Israel, according to a news website. The Arabs 48 news website, which reports on Palestinians in present-day Israel, said that Nabil Amrour was forced to tear down his own house to avoid paying exorbitant costs if the Israeli Interior Ministry’s bulldozers accompanied by police special forces.”

Lapid Makes Progress in Forming Government, Says Lieberman Would Get Treasury,

Yisrael Beiteinu and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party said Tuesday they had agreed on a coalition deal that would help form a new government and replace Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister after 12 straight years at the helm.”

International Reactions

Ireland recognises Israel’s ‘de facto annexation’ of Palestine,

“The Irish government has supported a parliamentary motion condemning the “de facto annexation” of Palestinian land by Israeli authorities, in what it said was the first use of the phrase by a European Union country in relation to Israel….If passed, the amendment would require the government to expel the Israeli ambassador to Ireland and to impose economic, political and cultural sanctions against Israel.”

UN rights council to mull international probe into Israel's bombardment of Gaza,

“The UN Human Rights Council will consider launching a broad, international investigation into abuses in the latest violence against Gaza and also into “systematic” abuses, according to a proposal tabled on Tuesday….The text, presented by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, calls for the UN top rights body to “urgently establish an ongoing independent, international commission of inquiry… in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in Israel.”” Also see ““Muslim nations ask UN to form unprecedented permanent panel to critique Israel” (ToI)

Netanyahu blasts French FM for ‘insolent’ claim Israel on way to apartheid,

“Le Drian was referring to Palestinians but also to violent riots by Arab Israelis that erupted in multiple locales amid the fighting with Gaza’s terror groups. He said the unrest “clearly shows that if in the future we had a solution other than the two-state solution, we would have the ingredients of long-lasting apartheid.” Netanyahu expresses “a strong protest against the French government and the outrageous comments of the French foreign minister on television.””

‘You can always count on us’: UK top diplomat visits Israel after Gaza fighting,

“In remarks before meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Raab said he was in the country “as a friend… that’s a great supporter of Israel.” “We’re looking forward to talking about the bilateral relationship but also how we move things forward elsewhere,” Raab said. “You can always count on us.”” Also see “Maliki discusses latest political developments with British Foreign Secretary” (WAFA) 

Coughing with difficulty breathing, Nasrallah threatens Israel,

Any violations of Jerusalem will cause a “regional war,” warned Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday night, in his first speech since before Operation Guardian of the Walls began over two weeks ago….Nasrallah stated on Tuesday that he had not made any statements in recent weeks because he had been sick. The Hezbollah leader delivered the speech in a quiet, raspy voice and appeared to have difficulty keeping his head up.”

In unprecedented numbers, university departments and scholars urge end to Israeli apartheid,

“In an unprecedented wave of solidarity, more than 300 academic departments, programs, centers, unions, and societies worldwide have endorsed statements in support of Palestinian rights in response to Israel’s violent attacks on Palestinians this month. Similar statements from individual scholars, researchers, university staff, students, and alumni have garnered more than 15,000 signatures….In the United States, 120 Gender Studies departments and programs affirmed that Palestine is a feminist issue and “refuse to normalize or accept the United States’ financial, military, diplomatic and political role in Palestinian dispossession.” More than 3000 scholars have called for pressure on academic institutions to end “complicity and partnership with military, academic, and legal institutions involved in entrenching Israel’s policies.” Faculty at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Stanford, Georgetown, City University of New York, and the University of California Berkeley and Davis also issued statements. The United Educators of San Francisco, representing 6,200 teachers and staff, became the first teachers union to endorse BDS.”

Israel-Palestine: Activists in UK shut down second Israeli arms factory in a week,

“The closure of the Tamworth site came less than a week after the forced closure of a factory operated by a subsidiary of Elbit Systems in the city of Leicester, following similar activism by the same group. The closure of both the Leicester and Tamworth sites has led to the disruption of Israeli arms production in the UK.”

The U.S.

Breaking News: Days Before Approving Humanitarian Aid to Gaza, State Department Agreed to Contentious Bomb Sale to Israel,

“But even as the administration takes steps to aid Gaza, its State Department has approved a $735-million sale of bombs to Israel, bypassing congressional opposition. On May 21st, according to a congressional staffer, the department granted Boeing an export license for the sale of Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Small Diameter Bombs—two kinds of laser-guided munitions that were reportedly used by Israel in the 11-day attack on the Gaza Strip that ended on Friday with a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas….The approval of the export license for the arms sale, which progressive legislators had tried to block at an earlier stage, immediately spurred opposition from Senator Bernie Sanders. On Friday, Sanders was notified that the sale had gone through and responded by placing a hold on all State Department nominees, blocking Congress from considering them for diplomatic posts, the Sanders office told Jewish Currents. After the administration committed to humanitarian aid for the rebuilding of Gaza, Sanders lifted the hold.”

See also:

Poll: 51 percent oppose Sanders-led resolution to block weapons sales to Israel,

“Fifty-one percent of registered voters in the May 21-23 survey said they would oppose a resolution to block millions in weapons sales to Israel. By contrast, 49 percent of respondents said they would support the measure.”

Blinken announces additional $38 million in aid to Palestinians,

“U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that Washington will transfer $38 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank. The U.S. plans to add another $75 million in aid earmarked for economic development, on top of the $250 million in aid for the Palestinians, which was announced in March.”

Prominent Palestinian Activist Meets With Blinken, Urges Him to Halt Israeli Arms Sale,

“U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with prominent Palestinian rights activist Issa Amro during the U.S. delegation’s visit to Ramallah on Tuesday. Amro said he told Blinken and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr that nothing would change if the United States does not hold Israel accountable, urging Blinken to nix the $735 arms sale to Israel. Amro added that he told Blinken that U.S. policy under former U.S. President Donald Trump made life more difficult for Palestinians. He implored Blinken to visit Sheikh Jarrah, Gaza and Hebron to see what life looks like for everyday Palestinians, and called on the administration to have direct contact with Palestinians inside Israel.”

Israel's outgoing president invited to Washington ahead of July retirement,

“US Secretary of State Antony Blinken extended the invitation to Rivlin as they met on the second day of a Middle East tour aimed at shoring up a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas that rules Gaza. “Secretary Blinken conveyed President Biden’s invitation to visit the United States before the end of his term of office” on July 5, the president’s office said in a statement.”

Calling Israel ‘apartheid’ and ‘terrorist’ is antisemitic, say 4 Jewish Democrats targeting party colleagues,

“Four Jewish House Democrats have called out party colleagues who accused Israel of apartheid and terrorism, as well as a Republican who has likened coronavirus restrictions to the Holocaust.”

After a plea to combat antisemitism, the White House convened a meeting with Jewish leaders,

“The participants said that each of the five requests they made was addressed during the meeting. These included nominating an antisemitism monitor at the State Department, naming a Jewish liaison, convening a summit on antisemitism, adding funds to secure nonprofits and keeping in place an executive order by President Donald Trump that combats antisemitism on campuses.” 

Also see: 

Kyrie Irving’s Comments on Palestine Are a Big Deal,

“Irving is only the most prominent of a number of US athletes who have been posting to social media in solidarity with the Palestinian people. In years past, this has been absolutely the third rail of sports and politics, with silence being the response to war and occupation. That is shifting. Influenced by connections between the Black Lives Matter movement, with its deep roots among NBA players, and the Palestinian struggle, we are seeing a new internationalist consciousness against racism and oppression.”

D.C. Rabbi Apologizes for Accusing Israel of “Ethnic Cleansing”,

“The sermon, which was streamed live on the synagogue’s Facebook page, immediately drew the ire of some in its virtual audience, who accused the rabbi of disseminating “the most despicable untruth” that would “provoke anti-Semites” and “gives them ammunition against Jews, not just in Washington DC, but everywhere.”… Here is her full statement: “In a sermon to my community last week, I used the term ‘ethnic cleansing,’ by which I meant the forced removal of one ethnic or religious group from their homes in exchange for members of another ethnic or religious group. I am sorry I used that term, rather than just saying exactly what I think: in East Jerusalem, Palestinians are being forced from their homes so as to settle Israeli Jews in the area.  Because ‘ethnic cleansing’ is a phrase that can be understood in many ways, using the term shuts down conversations rather than encouraging them.”” Also see “Mark Ruffalo apologizes for suggesting Israel committed ‘genocide’ in Gaza” (Times of Israel)

Free Speech, Big Tech, Media

WhatsApp Blocks Accounts of Jewish Extremists, Journalists in Gaza,

“WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook, has blocked the accounts of at least 30 far-right Jewish extremists in Israel. The news comes less than a day after accounts of journalists based in the Gaza Strip were also blocked, allegedly due to their membership in WhatsApp groups operated by Hamas. Among the accounts blocked were those belonging to activists from the far-right Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party, including the wife of its leader Itamar Ben-Gvir and the head of the group Lehava, Benzi Gopstein.”

Gaza-based journalists in Hamas chat blocked from WhatsApp,

“The Associated Press reached out to 17 journalists in Gaza who confirmed their Whatsapp accounts had been blocked since Friday….Twelve of the 17 journalists contacted by the AP said they had been part of a WhatsApp group that disseminates information related to Hamas military operations….It’s unclear if the journalists were targeted because they’d been following that group’s announcements on WhatsApp.”

Want Your Honorarium? Sign an Anti-BDS Pledge First,

““The certification that one is not engaged in a boycott of Israel is no different that [sic] requiring a person to espouse certain political beliefs or to engage in certain political associations,” Judge Cohen wrote in an order denying the state of Georgia’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. “The Supreme Court has found similar requirements to be unconstitutional on their face.”” Also see “Judge rules against Georgia in legal fight over Israel oath” (AP)

Do anti-BDS laws restrict free speech?,

“Like many other states, Georgia defines “a boycott of Israel” to include not only the choice to eschew certain transactions but also “other actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with Israel or individuals or companies doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories.” The law does not define “other actions,” but they plausibly include urging others to protest the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians by participating in an anti-Israel boycott, something Martin frequently does. Whatever you may think about the ethics or wisdom of that strategy (I question both), such advocacy is indisputably protected by the First Amendment.”

Hundreds of Amazon employees call for Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy to support Palestine,

“More than 500 Amazon employees have signed an internal letter to Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy calling for the company to acknowledge the plight of the Palestinian people….“We ask Amazon leadership to acknowledge the continued assault upon Palestinians’ basic human rights under an illegal occupation…“Amazon employs Palestinians in Tel Aviv and Haifa offices and around the world. Ignoring the suffering faced by Palestinians and their families at home erases our Palestinian coworkers.” Employees want the company to terminate business contracts with organizations that are complicit in human rights violations, like the Israeli Defense Forces. In April, Amazon and Google signed a $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government.”