Top News from Palestine & Israel: May 27, 2021

What We’re Reading

Gaza/Next Steps

Blinken Leaves Middle East With Cease-Fire Intact but Aid Uncertain,

“A fragile cease-fire remains intact, but the work to rebuild after the short but deadly war between Israel and Hamas has just begun, the top American diplomat said Wednesday at the close of a Middle East trip intended to keep simmering tensions from erupting anew…But the path forward could stretch indefinitely without a clear resolution. Past efforts to rebuild Gaza, and lift its two million residents from dire poverty and instability, have failed. Although the United States is shepherding the latest donor drive, and has so far contributed $360 million in humanitarian and development aid to Palestinians, control of such aid is part of a long-running power struggle between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. President Biden has said reconstruction must be in partnership with the authority, not Hamas. And Israeli leaders have said, tepidly, that they will resist contributing to an aid package unless the Palestinian Authority stops cooperating with an International Criminal Court investigation of war crimes in territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.”

Also see:

Egypt invites Israel to negotiate with Hamas, Palestinian Authority: Report,

“Egypt has reportedly invited representatives of Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to Cairo to discuss issues such as improving conditions in the Gaza Strip and strengthening the existing cease-fire. According to a report Wednesday by the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (KAN), the talks would focus on issues such as reaching a long-term cease-fire agreement in the region, the reconstruction of Gaza and the return of captives. No information was given on the date when the talks would begin, but according to the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, an Egyptian delegation recently held meetings in Israel, Ramallah and Gaza to discuss the proposal.”


Also see:

UN, NGOs launch a humanitarian plan to support Palestinians affected by recent escalation,

“The Humanitarian Coordinator of the occupied Palestinian territory, Lynn Hastings, launched an emergency plan to support people affected by the latest escalation and violence in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Along with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, Hastings called on all Member States to contribute generously towards the $95 million plan, to allow for a swift and full implementation over the next three months, according to a press statement by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory.”


Also see:

61 Hamas fighters killed in Gaza fighting, Palestinian paper says,

“Sixty-one Hamas fighters were killed during the 11-day conflict between Israel and the terror organizations in Gaza that ended last Friday, the Palestinian daily Al-Quds reported Wednesday. According to the report, eight of the 61, who were all members of the Hamas military wing, were senior officials in the group. Israel however said that some 225 terrorists, including 25 senior officials, were killed during the fighting. The number included members of both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).” Also see: Blinken: Israel ‘took very significant steps’ to avoid hitting Gaza civilians (Times of Israel)

Jordan’s King Abdullah welcomes US move to reopen consulate in Jerusalem,

“Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned against a continuation of the provocative Israeli violations in Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque, and the repeated and illegal attempts to displace residents in a number of east Jerusalem neighborhoods, especially Sheikh Jarrah, which led to the recent escalation, state news agency Petra reported. Speaking during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, the king stressed the ‘necessity of preserving the existing historical and legal status of Jerusalem and its sanctities and away from prejudice,’ adding that his country ‘will continue to make all efforts to protect Islamic and Christian holy sites in the holy city,’ of which the Hashemite kingdom hold guardianship over. The king said he appreciated the recent decisions taken by the US administration, including reopening the Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem, and resuming the support provided to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), adding that these steps will contribute to building confidence and pushing the political path forward.”


Also see:

‘Palestinian resistance gains from recent Israeli attacks’,

“Recent Israeli attacks on the blockaded Gaza Strip have taken the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a new level, a Palestinian expert said on Wednesday. ‘The Palestinian resistance has achieved various political gains with the latest Israeli attacks on Gaza,’ Shafik Shakir, a researcher at Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Research Center, told Anadolu Agency. ‘The most important achievement of the resistance in the recent attacks was to unite the Palestinian struggle in all Palestinian territories,’ Shakir said. Important steps have been taken toward the unity of the Palestinian people as Jerusalem and other Palestinian territories have also gotten involved in the recent conflict between Israel and Gaza unlike the previous ones, he noted.”


Also see:

Gaza War: This Is What Israel Showed the World. This Was the Reality on the Ground,

“Throughout the military campaign in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces meticulously published multiple daily updates for the public about its activity. These updates presumably reveal what was happening. But what can we learn from them? The images generally were without exact names of what was attacked, and without captions. Most of the video clips and the photos the IDF released focus on a specific target without showing the surroundings, even though many of the targets are in the heart of civilian population centers. The absence of people is blatant, and the images don’t show how the bombings affected life in densely populated Gaza. But the IDF images aren’t the only documentation of the strikes: In order to get a more complete picture Haaretz collected satellite photos, photos from professional photographers inside Gaza, and testimony and video clips recorded by Gaza residents. Information from human rights and journalistic freedom organizations helps complete the picture. All of these show the huge disparity between a war as seen from a black-and-white computer screen, and the massive, terrifying destruction that almost all Gaza residents hear and feel as they’re trapped in the confrontation between the IDF and Hamas.”


Also see:

Can There Be Freedom, Prosperity, and Democracy for Gaza?,

“Talk of rebuilding Gaza may seem too early; the violence is still fresh and the task ahead too complex to allow for quick assessment. However, a review of U.S. policy and how it could be better used to prevent future violence and promote rights and human security is long overdue. Securing the rights of Palestinians in Gaza is required now. The United States should prioritize ending the Israeli blockade and restrictions on Gaza. Israel’s isolation of the Strip and its approximately 2 million inhabitants prevents Palestinian national reconciliation, guarantees recurring episodes of high-intensity violence, and condemns Palestinians to inhumane conditions. It also indefinitely thwarts a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the PLO—a U.S. policy objective—buying Israel the time and political space to cement its sovereignty over the West Bank. By any measure, that will not bring freedom, democracy, or prosperity for Palestinians.”

How the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is failing,

“The Holy Land looks ever more like one unequal state.”

West Bank/Jerusalem

Hamas Leader threatens new attacks on Israel if Al-Aqsa Mosque ‘violated’,

“Head of Hamas’ political wing, Yahya Sinwar, has threatened to renew fighting against Israel if it ‘violates’ al-Aqsa Mosque again. He says Hamas only used a fraction of its power in the recent war that killed 290 Palestinians and 12 Israelis.”

Following Haaretz Report, Five Officers Under Investigation by Police Misconduct Unit,

“The Justice Ministry’s police misconduct unit opened an investigation on Wednesday into five officers involved in the shooting of a teenage girl with a sponge-tipped bullet during a recent crackdown on unrest in Sheikh Jarrah last week. On Tuesday, Haaretz reported that 16-year-old Jana Kiswani was shot in the back by one of the officers as she reentered her family’s courtyard upon police order to return inside. Seconds later, after the gate was closed, the police fired another bullet that hit her father Mohammed in the leg, and also threw a stun grenade through the bars of the gate, which fell right near the wounded father and daughter.” Also see: 7 cops questioned over shooting of Sheikh Jarrah girl in back with sponge round (Times of Israel)

Court advances case on Sheikh Jarrah evictions,

“The High Court of Justice notified the state that it does not intend to ignore the issue of the pending eviction of four Palestinian families from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and on Wednesday gave Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit until June 8 to submit his opinion on the matter.”

Amnesty International calls on Israel to scrap plans to forcibly evict Palestinian families in Silwan,

“Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Saleh Higazi, said that what’s currently happening the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan ‘is yet another illustration of Israel’s criminal policy of forced displacement of Palestinians in motion.’ ‘By continuing to pursue this court case – after the outcry over the planned forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem – Israel is fanning the flames of the latest upsurge in violence and perpetuating the same systematic human rights violations against Palestinians that are at the root of the latest violence,’ he said.”

East Jerusalem Political Activists Deprived of National Insurance Institute Benefits,

“The National Insurance Institute has suspended the social and medical benefits of at least 11 political activists and former prisoners who live in East Jerusalem. These benefits are also being denied to their family members. The wife of Majed Al-Jouaba, a resident of Jerusalem’s Old City, discovered the suspension of benefits when she went for a blood test on Wednesday as part of a routine checkup during her pregnancy. According to her husband, the nurse at the health clinic told her she could not receive the results of her test since she was ‘blocked on the computer system.’ A short investigation revealed that this block had commenced five days earlier. Jouaba is a former security prisoner, known to residents of the Old City and the police as a political activist. He says he did not take part in the demonstrations on the Temple Mount or at Damascus Gate during the city’s latest round of violence. Police make sure they take his ID card every time he comes to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, but he has not been arrested or questioned lately.” Also see: Israel punitively revokes health insurance of 16 former prisoners from Jerusalem (WAFA)

A-G investigating officer who killed terrorist 6 years ago - report,

“Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit opened an investigation two weeks ago into a police officer who killed a terrorist in Jerusalem about six-years-ago, on suspicion that the officer killed the terrorist when he wasn’t posing an immediate threat, KAN news reported on Wednesday. The incident in question happened in October, 2015, when a terrorist stabbed a passerby in Jerusalem. A police officer who arrived at the scene shot and killed the terrorist. The officer received a certificate of appreciation for his actions at the time. The state prosecutor was asked after the incident to open an investigation into the officer on claims that the terrorist was not posing a mortal threat when he was shot, but the state prosecutor decided to close the case. An appeal was filed and the attorney-general decided, about six years after the fact, to accept the appeal and reopen the case, according to KAN news.” Also see: Lauded for killing terrorist 6 years ago, police officer now probed over death (Times of Israel)

Israeli settlers steal 110 straw bales in Nablus-area village,

“Israeli settler extremists stole today 110 Straw bales belonging to a Palestinian resident in the village of Burin, south of Nablus, in the northern occupied West Bank, according to a local activist. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, said settlers stole around 110 straw bales belonging to local resident Mohammed Raja Eid in the village of Burin near Huwwara military checkpoint.”

‘48 Israel / Inside the Green Line

‘A campaign of intimidation and terror against the Arab public’,

“In an attempt to restore pride in the police, Israeli forces are arresting hundreds of Palestinian citizens in the most widespread crackdown in decades.”

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Netanyahu denounces French foreign minister for apartheid comment,

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday slammed a recent statement by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who said the situation in Israel has ‘the ingredients of long-lasting apartheid.’, Anadolu reports. Le Drian’s comment is ‘an insolent, false claim that has no basis,’ said Netanyahu. ‘In the State of Israel, all citizens are equal before the law, regardless of their ethnicity.’ Le Drian commented on Sunday on the recent Israeli escalation which turned to violent clashes between Arab-Israelis and Israelis in Israeli towns. Such escalation ‘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,’ he said.”

Yamina, Religious Zionism trade blame for lack of right-wing government,

“The Religious Zionism and Yamina parties on Wednesday traded blame for the inability of right-wing factions to form a government after general elections in March, with Naftali Bennett’s party appearing to keep open the possibility of joining a coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rivals. Yamina is facing heavy pressure from Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc to fully rule out the prospect of forming a government with the so-called ‘change bloc’ of right-wing, centrist and left-wing parties opposed to the premier. While Yamina has said it would join a minority right-wing government with Netanyahu and his allies that is propped up by Ra’am, the far-right Religious Zionism opposes a coalition that relies on the Islamist party. In a press conference, Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich accused Yamina of ‘scamming’ the public during the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip into believing it had given up on attempting to form a power-sharing government that would see Yamina leader Bennett and Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid switch off as prime minister.” Also see: Yisrael Beytenu MK: This is not a left-wing government, this is a unity government (Arutz Sheva)

Lehava, the Lynching and the Nation-state Law ,

“A straight line connects the terrible scenes of the lynching in Bat Yam and the nation-state law. Incitement on the part of far-right organization Lehava – the figurative executive arm of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – led directly to the mob attacks and pogroms. The images were appalling, both because of the acts they show – thugs beating Said Moussa (with an Israeli flag!) as he lay on the ground, defenseless – and because of the people who stood around them and laughed, filmed or simply looked on idly. They did not feel threatened. They stood there watching an attempt to murder another human, and it didn’t appear to disturb them. Unlike ‘regular’ murder, lynching, or mob attacks, are a communal act. They express the consent of one community to shedding the blood of members of a different community – consent that makes it possible to violate the usual taboo against murder. Mob attacks are a community’s way of redrawing a boundary it feels has been crossed or is in constant danger of being crossed. They come from ‘below,’ an act of popular rage or fear, and their instigators and organizers go about their actions unhindered. Already in 2014, I urged the attorney general and the justice minister to declare Lehava a terrorist organization. It didn’t happen. The result of the law enforcement authorities’ prolonged lenience toward the organization constitutes a mob attack that preserves the social order that benefits Lehava.”

International Reactions

UN: Israel's air strikes on Gaza could constitute war crimes,

“UN human rights chief says that Israel’s attacks on the besieged enclave may amount to war crimes and urges Hamas to refrain from indiscriminate rocket strikes.” Also see: UNHRC to call for arms embargo against Israel along with war crimes probe (Jerusalem Post)

Nasrallah: Violation of Jerusalem will lead to regional war,

“The Secretary-General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, said yesterday that any violations of Jerusalem and holy sites belonging to Muslims and Christians therein would lead to a regional war. During a speech marking the 22nd anniversary of Israel’s unconditional withdrawal from southern Lebanon, known as Resistance and Liberation Day, Nasrallah congratulated the Palestinian resistance over their victory. ‘We are now celebrating two great victories, the 25th of May 2000 in Lebanon and the 21st of May 2021 in Gaza,’ he said. The Hezbollah leader also mentioned the recent violations of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem which triggered the latest conflict and social unrest. ‘The Israelis assumed that the Judaisation procedures in Jerusalem will only be faced with statements and denunciations. They didn’t expect that the resistance will take this historic decision.’ Referring to the Israelis he stated that ‘you should be aware that violating Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque is unlike any other violation you practice.’ As part of his address, Nasrallah warned that any violation to the Al-Aqsa Mosque or Islamic sites in general must not be faced by the resistance in Gaza only. ‘The equation must be a regional war for Jerusalem,’ he explained, stressing that ‘when Islamic and Christian sanctities face threats there won’t be any red lines.’” Also see: Gantz warns ‘Lebanon will tremble’ if an attack comes from the north (i24 News)

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

“After the recent bombardment of Gaza, the Irish parliament passes a motion condemning Israel’s ‘de facto annexation’ of Palestinian land.”

Germany criticizes Israeli settlement expansion,

“The German government on Wednesday criticized ongoing Israeli settlement expansion in the Palestinian-run territories and occupied Jerusalem, saying it is an impediment to a two-state solution. Responding to reporters’ questions during a regular press conference in Berlin,German Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Christofer Burger said Israeli settlements are not ‘compatible with international law.’ He also stressed that the Israeli settlement policy is an ‘obstacle to the goal of a negotiated two-state solution.’”

Saudi Arabia refuses permission for Israeli flight to use airspace,

“Saudi Arabia has refused permission for an Israeli airline to fly through its airspace, forcing the carrier to cancel a flight to the United Arab Emirates. The flight operated by Israir, the second-largest Israeli carrier, was held for ten hours at Ben Gurion Airport before being cancelled. The reason for the refusal is unclear. According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the flight was cancelled because of a ‘technical failure’. The issue is likely to raise speculation about relations between the two countries.”

Italian dockworkers again refuse to load arms headed for Israel,

“Italian dockworkers have again refused to load weapons on ships headed for Israel, in solidarity with the Palestinian people. A strike was proclaimed on Tuesday by trade unions in the port of Ravenna in northeast Italy after they learned that a ship, the Asiatic Liberty, was expected that would have to be loaded with weapons destined for the Israeli port of Ashdod.”

Calls for Israeli actress to be dropped after hosting programme on displaced indigenous people,

“Activists have called on National Geographic to drop Israeli actress Gal Gadot from hosting future programmes following its recent documentary series called Impact. The series ‘follows the powerful stories of six women who are making an extraordinary impact on their communities around the world.’ However, the fifth episode has been criticised by activists who found it ironic and inappropriate for Gadot to be highlighting the plight of indigenous people when Israel is a settler colonial state. She served in the Israeli military and is active on social media about her pro-Zionist stance.”

Amazon employees call on Bezos, Jassy to cease IDF business contracts,

“More than 500 employees of US online retail behemoth Amazon, have signed a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos and CEO of Amazon Web Services Andy Jassy calling, on the company to sever business contracts with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), reported The Verge. Further than that, the employees urged the company to actively support the Palestinians, although it was unclear if they meant the ones firing rockets at Israel’s population centers. ‘We call on Amazon executives to recognize the continued attack on basic human rights of Palestinians under illegal occupation […],’ the employees wrote.”

The U.S. 

We Can’t Expect Joe Biden to Stop Supporting Apartheid,

“We can’t realistically expect the Biden administration to stop supporting apartheid, to stop doing what it can to prolong it and sustain it and help quell any challenges to it. But we can at least hope that it will play as small a role as possible, so that the revolts and challenges that do naturally arise will not be as easily quashed. In the meantime, progressives in the United States need to better understand that they can’t challenge apartheid by fostering partnerships with the Israeli left. If you don’t want to be part of whitewashing apartheid, the first step is to stop blaming apartheid on Netanyahu and Trump, or on the Israeli right and the Republicans. The next step is to recognize that Israel’s system of apartheid is supported by both Biden and the Israeli left. And the step after that is to start reducing your own complicity in apartheid, first and foremost through your tax dollars.”

As Israel increasingly relies on US evangelicals for support, younger ones are walking away: What polls show,

“…First, our 2018 poll showed a dramatic drop in young evangelicals’ support for Israel since 2015, accompanied by a dramatic rise in those wanting to see the U.S. lean toward the Palestinians…Second, the difference in opinion on leaning toward Israel between younger and older evangelicals also expanded from 2015-18…Third, among non-evangelicals, the gap between younger and older respondents who want the U.S. to lean toward Israel was also present, but narrower than it is among evangelicals…Notably, and in parallel, in 2018, young evangelicals grew to be twice as supportive of the Palestinians — with 18% choosing “lean toward the Palestinians” — as non-evangelicals, with 9%.”

Free Speech, Big Tech, Media

Israeli Police Target Palestinian Journalists at Al Aqsa Mosque,

“Journalists at the Jerusalem holy site documented police arbitrarily denying access, delivering beatings, and firing on reporters with rubber-coated bullets.”

AP to review social media policies after firing pro-Palestine staffer,

“The Associated Press announced on Tuesday that it would reconsider its social media policies following the wave of criticism it has received for firing Jewish journalist, Emily Wilder, following her support of Palestinian human rights. The agency said on Twitter that more than 100 of its employees are concerned about the treatment of their former colleague, adding that a committee of volunteers will be formed with the aim of suggesting changes to the agency’s social media guidelines by September. Last Thursday, the AP fired Wilder, 22, for ‘violating’ its social media rules which compel staff members not to express opinions on controversial issues for fear of damaging the news service’s reputation for objectivity and jeopardising its many reporters around the world. On Monday, more than 100 Associated Press reporters signed an open letter protesting Wilder’s dismissal after her tweets about past college activism surfaced.”

Advocates demand Facebook end ‘blatant’ Palestinian censorship,

“Rights groups and Palestine advocates are demanding answers from Facebook after multiple reports that the social media giant has censored Palestinian content on its platforms, especially during the recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and occupied East Jerusalem. In a letter to Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on Wednesday, dozens of organisations said they were ‘angered and disturbed by the recent censorship of Palestinian users and their supporters on your platforms’.”

Google suggests Palestine keffiyeh as symbol of terrorism,

“Social media users yesterday slammed Google for linking the iconic Palestinian scarf the keffiyeh with ‘terrorism’. A Google search asking ‘what scarf do terrorists wear on their head?’ brings up images of the Palestinian keffiyeh donned on the head or neck, alongside pictures of terrorists waving the Daesh flag, or even Muslim women wearing the hijab or headscarf. During the latest Israeli aggression on the besieged Gaza Strip, social media users highlighted social media platforms complicity with the occupation as Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok censoring content shared highlighting the Palestinian narrative and Israeli aggression.”

UK report highlights 'euphemism' for Israeli aggression in media coverage,

“A report looking into news reports over the recent violence in Israel and Gaza said it finds a great amount of ‘euphemism’ for Israeli aggressions and the ‘implication of a power symmetry’ between Israeli forces and Palestinians. The report called ‘Media reporting on Palestine 2021’ published by the Centre for Media Monitoring (CfMM) – a project of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which promotes fair and responsible reporting of Muslims and Islam – said the media coverage during the latest violence period in Israel and Gaza was ‘quite problematic.’ It said the media coverage of the recent violence in Jerusalem and Gaza ‘gained momentum on 23rd April 2021,’ when Israeli nationalists marching through Jerusalem chanting ‘death to Arabs’ were met by Palestinian protestors at the Damascus Gate, in what would become the first of many flashpoints in the ensuing weeks. ‘[…] we observed in the course of our media monitoring skewed the public’s understanding of what was happening in Jerusalem, Gaza and other parts of Palestine […],’ the report said, giving tens of examples of coverage mainly by the western media.”