Settlement & Annexation Report: June 7, 2024


Welcome to FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report, covering everything you need to know about Israeli settlement activity this week.

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June 7, 2024

  1. Jerusalem Flag Parade Terrorizes Jerusalem, Ben Gvir Tests Temple Mount Status Quo
  2. IDF Demolishes Outpost, Ben Gvir Calls (Again) for Gallant to Be Dismissed
  3. Settlers & Knesset Call for Israel to Create “Special Regime” With Open Fire Directives to Fortify Settlement Safety
  4. Israeli Govt is Working with “Friends in the U.S.” To Cancel/Reduce Sanctions on Settlers
  5. Bonus Reads

Jerusalem Flag Parade Terrorizes Jerusalem, Ben Gvir Tests Temple Mount Status Quo

On June 5th, tens of thousands of Israelis – including ministers and Knesset members – took part in the annual Jerusalem Flag parade [of terror] through the Old City of Jerusalem, going from the Damascus Gate, through the Muslim Quarter, and culminating with a rally at the Western Wall Plaza. Demonstrating how inflammatory the march and many of its participants are each year, and how particularly frenzied and emboldened the participants were expected to be this year, 3,000 police officers were deployed along the parade route and throughout the city. In addition to the chants common for years (including “May your village burn,” “Death to Arabs” “Muhammad is dead,” and “May their name be erased”) marchers physically assaulted Palestinians, activists, and Israeli and Palestinian journalists – flaunting their incendiary, criminal behavior while police and military officers largely stood by (thirteen people were arrested, and five detained, including a Palestinian journalist who was attacked). 

In addition, Haaretz reports that hundreds of Israelis were permitted entry to the Temple Mount on June 5th as part of the parade day, which posed a serious test of Netanyahu’s control over his National Security Minister Ben Gvir as well as Netanyahu’s commitment to upholding the delicate and ever-eroding Status Quo on the Temple Mount, which has been succinctly articulated by Bibi Netanyahu himself as: “Muslims pray on the Temple Mount, non-Muslims visit the Temple Mount

Ben Gvir, in his role as the Israeli National Security Minister, is ostensibly in charge of ensuring the security of Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount. True to his ideology and political commitments, Ben Gvir caused a serious panic as the parade began by saying that he had revoked the status quo and that Jews can freely pray on the Temple Mount (an incendiary demand by the Temple Mount Movement to which Ben Gvir subscribes). Netanyahu’s office countered by quickly issuing a statement that the Status Quo has not and will not change. 

While the political drama swirled, Haaretz reported that some of the Jewish Israeli parade-goers who were permitted to go to the Temple Mount started to sing and pray, and then were stopped and removed by Israeli police. An activists who went to the Temple Mount told Arutz Sheva that dozens were removed.

After being overruled by Netanyahu, Ben Gvir did not back down, telling Army Radio after the march that “My policy is very clear on this matter: Jews can be anywhere in Jerusalem, pray anywhere.” 

The Temple Mount issue is not the only headline Ben Gvir made that day. While arriving at the Damascus Gate to join the festivities (along with Smotrich), Ben Gvir he told reporters:

“I came here for one thing, to send a message to Hamas and every house in Gaza and also in the north. Jerusalem is ours. The Damascus Gate, Temple Mount is ours. Today, according to my policy, Jews entered the Old City freely. And also the Temple Mount where they prayed freely. We say in the simplest way, it’s ours. This is the message to Hamas. I pray for the wounded, pray for the release of the hostages. But I say Hamas and Hezbollah must be defeated in war, only in war! And this is ours, our Temple Mount, our Damascus Gate. Let the whole world know it.”

One of the journalists who was assaulted that day, Nir Hasson of Haaretz, later wrote:

“The Flag March on Jerusalem Day is an accurate thermometer of the condition of Israeli society. It measures the levels of hatred, racism and violence in the religious Zionist society and the tolerance of the police and the rest of society to these traits. This year’s diagnosis is terminal. Wednesday’s march was one of the most violent and ugliest I have seen – and I have witnessed every single one over the past 16 years.”

Ir Amim said in a statement calling for the parade to be re-routed away from the Muslim Quarter:

“Against the backdrop of the ongoing devastating war in Gaza and growing international criticism over Israel’s conduct, the Israeli authorities are preparing to mark Jerusalem Day on June 5, which commemorates the “liberation” of East Jerusalem and “re-unification” of the city. This year, the date on which Jerusalem Day is celebrated according to the Hebrew calendar falls on the exact date of the start of the 1967 War and marks 57 years of Israeli occupation and illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. Over the past nearly six decades, consecutive Israeli governments have continued to create irreversible facts on the ground to entrench Israeli control over Jerusalem in its entirety and foil any prospect of an agreed political resolution with two capitals in the city. As a result, it continues to cement a one-state reality of permanent occupation and systematic oppression of Palestinians.”

IDF Demolishes Outpost, Ben Gvir Calls (Again) for Gallant to Be Dismissed

On June 4th the IDF demolished an illegal outpost in the northern West Bank, which was built by settlers without permission on privately owned Palestinian land southwest of Nablus near the settlement called Yair’s Farm. The Israeli Civil Administration reports that a total of six structures were demolished.

The Civil Administration’s action against the outpost elicited the latest repudiation of Gallant by his fellow Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who called on Netanyahu to fire Gallant over the outpost demolition. As a reminder, as a result of a power struggle between Gallant and Smotrich in forming the current government (circa February 2023), Defense Minister Gallant ceded most all authority over civilian matters in the West Bank to Smotrich – – except for the authority over building enforcement laws. However, the compromise was the Gallant had to notify Smotrich of any plans to demolish settlement/outpost construction.  In March 2024, news leaked that Smotrich is actively trying to wrest demolition powers from Gallant, though the demolition this week makes clear that Gallant remains in control (because Smotrich is opposed to enforcing Israeli law if it means holding settlers accountable).

Settlers and their leaders are also furious over the demolition of the outpost, which they say was built in memory of Moti Shamir, who was killed during the Hamas attack on Israeli towns on October 7, 2023. Settlers also say that the land is not privately owned by Palestinians, instead they feel justified in building there because they expect the government to declare the land as “state land” soon. 

Settlers & Knesset Call for Israel to Create “Special Regime” With Open Fire Directives to Fortify Settlement Safety

This week saw several media hits and a Knesset hearing pushing a call along similar lines for the Israeli government to drastically step up its military operations in the West Bank to protect settlements and outposts.

At a Knesset subcommittee hearing on June 2nd, settlers called for the military to undertake more proactive military operations against Palestinian population centers. 

In an op-ed published in Israel Hayom on June 2nd, former national security advisor Meir Ben Shabbat urged the government to establish a “special regime” with “unique open-fire instructions for the Seam Zone”

Yigal Dilmoni had an op-ed published in The Jewish Press on May 28th,  in which he warned that the IDF needs to increase its operations in the West Bank and for settlements to expand in order to prevent another October 7th.

Israeli Govt is Working with “Friends in the U.S.” To Cancel/Reduce Sanctions on Settlers

The Associated Press reports that Bezalel Smotrich said the Israeli government is working with “our friends in the U.S.” to cancel or reduce the Bedien Administrations sanctions on settlers and settler entities believed to be perpetrating violent attacks on Palestinians and activists in the West Bank. The AP’s reporting also demonstrates just how ineffectual those sanctions are, with one of the sanctioned individuals saying that it has only further emboldened him to continue his activities in the West Bank, and that he only experienced financial punishment for two months before the Israeli government and banking sector reopened his accounts, and crowd-funding campaigns raised tens of thousands on his behalf.

Bonus Reads

  1. “Worshipers who arrived at Mount Ebal detained by the IDF” (Arutz Sheva)
  2. “UN rights office criticises Israel over deaths of 500 Palestinians in West Bank” (Reuters)
  3. “In the West Bank, Guns and a Locked Gate Signal a Town’s New Residents” (The New York Times)
  4. “Rising violence strikes fear into West Bank school” (Al-Monitor)
  5. “Trump Is Desperate for Miriam Adelson’s Cash. Her Condition: West Bank Annexation” (Haaretz)
  6. “US sanctions Palestinian group under decree used to target Israeli settlers” (Al Jazeera)