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Academic Newsletter N°66 (January 2021)

"Le gouvernement fera de nouveaux pas dans le sens d'une politique de différenciation bilatérale et multilatérale à l'égard des colonies israéliennes. Il travaillera au niveau multilatéral et de l'UE ou, le cas échéant, avec un groupe significatif d'États partageant les mêmes vues, sur une liste de contre-mesures efficaces et proportionnées en cas d'annexion du territoire palestinien par Israël et sur une possible reconnaissance en temps utile de l'État palestinien."

"De regering zet verdere stappen inzake een bilateraal en multilateraal differentiatiebeleid ten opzichte van de Israëlische nederzettingen. De regering zal op multilateraal en EU-vlak, of desgevallend met een significante groep gelijkgezinde staten, werken aan een lijst van effectieve en proportionele tegenmaatregelen ingeval van een Israëlische annexatie van Palestijns gebied en aan de mogelijke en tijdige erkenning van de Palestijnse staat."

Accord de gouvernement, 30/09/2020: "Pour une Belgique prospère, solidaire et durable," 6. La Belgique, une voix forte en Europe et dans le monde, 6.1. Ambition européenne et internationale, p. 90.
Regeerakkoord, 30/09/2020: "Voor een welvarend, solidair en duurzaam België" 6. België, een sterke stem in Europa en de wereld, 6.1. Europese en internationale ambitie, p. 90.


Spotlight (7) -- Actions (4) -- Academia (4) -- Analyses (6) -- BDS (5) -- COVID-19 (4) -- International (6) -- Israel (9) -- Palestine (13) -- Prisoners (5) -- Refugees (6) -- Resources (13) -- Videos (5)


Witch-hunt Against Palestinian Rights Defenders

"Nothing Can Be Changed Until It Is Faced"

As artists, academics, writers and cultural workers who live in Germany and/or work with German cultural institutions, we welcome the joint initiative "GG 5.3. Weltoffenheit," announced by a broad coalition of prominent German cultural institutions in Berlin on 10 December 2020.
The aforementioned initiative is a belated response to the contentious resolution adopted by German parliament in May 2019, via which the aims and methods of the Palestinian-led solidarity movement, 'Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions' (BDS), were formally condemned as antisemitic, leading to a cross-party decision to cut off public funding for projects that "actively support" the BDS movement. The statement criticises this parliamentary resolution, describing it as "dangerous." We share this concern and view the resolution's curtailment of the right to boycott as a violation of democratic principles. Since being passed, the resolution has been instrumentalized to distort, malign and silence marginalized positions, in particular those which defend Palestinian rights or are critical of the Israeli occupation. Continue...

Total Signatories: 1451 (1-300 & 301-1451).

Statement by the "Initiative GG 5.3 Weltoffenheit" (pdf).

Some victims of the current pro-Israel witch hunt: (L-R) Philosopher Achille Mbembe, artistic director Stefanie Carp, scholar Peter Schäfer, and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, one of the founders of Jewish Voice for Labour. (Photo-collage by IAK).

"In Germany, a Witch Hunt Is Raging Against Critics of Israel. Cultural Leaders Have Had Enough."

Itay Mashiach
(Israel-Palestine News, Dec 14, reposted from Ha'aretz):

BERLIN – Nirit Sommerfeld's musical show has been touring Germany for years. Backed up by her klezmer band, Sommerfeld performs texts and songs, in both German and Yiddish, about Kristallnacht, yearnings for Israel and such things as Hanukkah in the Diaspora. For years, the 59-year-old singer, who was born in Israel and grew up in Germany, was the darling of the Jewish community in Munich, where she lives.
Two years ago, however, when Sommerfeld submitted a standard request for public funding for her show, she encountered hemming and hawing on the part of the cordial clerks in Munich's cultural department, and delays in the handling of her request. "In the end they said, 'Would you perhaps be willing for us to receive the text of the work beforehand? Maybe it will be possible to make changes here and there.'"  

"Antisemitism claims mask a reign of political and cultural
terror across Europe"

Jonathan Cook (J.C. Blog,12 Dec, 2020):

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has run a fascinating long report this week offering a disturbing snapshot of the political climate rapidly emerging across Europe on the issue of antisemitism. The article documents a kind of cultural, political and intellectual reign of terror in Germany since the parliament passed a resolution last year equating support for non-violent boycotts of Israel - in solidarity with Palestinians oppressed by Israel - with antisemitism.  Continue...

Montpellier, 1er février 2020, stand BDS. Daniel Bodin.

" Boycott d'Israël. La France cherche à contourner les décisions de la justice européenne "

François Dubuisson

(Orient XXI, 14 Décembre 2020):

Dans un arrêt récent, la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme a condamné la France et confirmé la légalité des appels au boycott des produits israéliens. Au lieu de se plier à cette décision, Paris tente de la contourner, au mépris du droit.
En rendant en juin 2020 un arrêt condamnant la France dans
l'affaire Baldassi, la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme (CEDH) a mis - en principe - un terme à une longue controverse juridique sur la légalité des appels au boycott des produits originaires d'Israël, lancés par diverses ONG dans le cadre de la campagne Boycott-Désinvestissement-Sanctions (BDS), elle-même initiée en 2005 par la société civile palestinienne. 

La haute fonctionnaire de l'UE Katharina von Schnurbein a calomnié les activistes des campagnes pour le boycott d'Israël. (Photo : Frank Hoermann Sven Simon)

"L'UE ignore la décision de la Cour concernant le droit
de boycotter Israël"

David Cronin

(The Electronic Intifada via Charleroi pour la Palestine, 6 nov, trad. JMF):

Dans son verdict - rendu en juin de cette année - la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme défendait explicitement les droits des activistes de la campagne à lancer un appel en vue de boycotter Israël. Une lettre de Von Schnurbein, adressée à l'auteur de l'article, ne fait absolument pas mention de la décision de cette Cour. Continue...

The European Legal Support Center defends and empowers advocates for Palestine in Europe through legal means.

We are pleased to announce that the new ELSC website is now live!

The user-friendly designed website is available in English and provides a comprehensive overview of our work based on our three pillars: monitor, defend and empower. The website will now be the first point of call for Palestinian rights defenders in Europe seeking to gain information, legal advice and support.
'Defend' section provides an overview of cases the ELSC has been taking up, including a selection of milestones judgements whose relevance are crucial in the defence of the Palestinian cause in Europe. You will find there major Court rulings reasserting that the protection of the right to boycott falls under the right to freedom of expression. We hope these to serve as encouraging and inspirational tools for activists to safeguard their rights.
'Monitor' section tracks the efforts that aim to undermine advocacy for Palestinian rights, including the redefinition of antisemitism to censor criticism of Israel and the adoption of anti-BDS motions. In 2021, we will publish our first report on the situation of Palestinian rights defenders in the Netherlands between 2015 and 2020. Continue...

Along with the website, we are also launching a Legal Aid Fund in order to make legal services available to those who can't afford it. Through our donation form, you can contribute a one-time or a monthly gift.

Regional German Constitutional Court Rules Anti-BDS Motion
Infringes of Fundamental Rights.

(December 18, 2020):

 On 22 September 2020, the Constitutional Court of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) in Germany delivered its final ruling in the complaint brought by the ELSC and lawyer Ahmed Abed against the anti-BDS motion of the NRW State Parliament adopted on 20 September 2018...

This landmark judgment could have significant deterrent effects on institutions which unlawfully target the BDS campaign as antisemitic in itself. It represents a win for BDS groups in terms of state institutions recognizing their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

Actions & Calls : 

"Stand With Issa. Drop Charges Against Human Rights
Defender Issa Amro!"

'Friends of Hebron. Working for Peace and Justice.'

Issa Amro is the co-founder of Youth Against Settlements in Hebron and is formally recognized as Palestinian Human Rights Defender. He is on trial in the Israeli military court for his peaceful community organizing. The 18 charges presented by Israeli authorities have been labeled "baseless," "politically motivated," or "physically impossible" by Amnesty International, and UN experts have expressed deep concern for Issa's life and well-being. Issa's lawyer expects him to be convicted on the majority of the charges and she believes the judge will make the verdict very soon. He may face years in prison.


to UN Secretary-General António Guterres and President of the EC Ursula von der Leyen, and call for international protection of Issa Amro and for the Israeli authorities to drop the baseless charges.  (3/01/2021: 4,909 signatures)


Palestinian artist safely home after eight-day detention in Jericho jail.

Ramallah, Palestinian Territories, Jan 3, 2021

SAMA' ABDULHADI, the 30-year old Palestinian electronic musician and DJ, has been released on bail by Palestinian Authorities following an eight-day detention in a Jericho jail. Abdulhadi was released on bail by PA court order on the basis of a cash bond of 500 Jordanian Dinar bail and 2000 Jordanian Dinars bail bond and a restriction of travel order outside of Palestine and is subject to further investigation on the charges of desecrating a holy site and religious symbols and violating Covid 19 emergency measures. Abdulhadi faces up to two years of imprisonment if indicted. She has not been indicted yet and is awaiting the Attorney Generals decision whether the charges will be pursued or not, following the final results of the investigation. Abdulhadi is now safely with her family.

BBC News: "Samaa Abdulhadi: Activists call for release of 'Palestinian techno queen.'" By Tala Halawa. BBC Monitoring, Ramallah,30 Dec 2020.

"Libérez Lian Kayed, étudiante de Birzeit, détenue depuis 18 mois par Israël !"

(EuroPalestine, 27 déc, 2020):

Lian Kayed, qui vivait à Sebastia près de Naplouse, a été kidnappée par l'occupant israélien en juin 2019, alors qu'elle se rendait à son université de Birzeit, près de Ramallah pour se faire remettre son diplôme de maîtrise en sociologie. C'est au au checkpoint de Za'tara, au sud de Naplouse, qu'elle a été arrêtée, puis transférée pour interrogatoire au centre de détention de Hasharon, et jetée sur un vieux matelas sale sans couvertures. Continue...

"Development is a Condition for Continued Existence: Bedouin Women's Conference"  (

For the first time, the 'Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights' held a women's conference titled "Development is a Condition for Continued Existence." Bimkom organized this conference in response to the desire of the Bedouin communities we partner with in the West Bank and the Negev, and in collaboration with the women within those communities who chose this topic. The purpose of the conference was to help them learn how to secure independent sources of income and implement projects to support their families, while preserving the privacy and identity of the Bedouin woman. We were honored to host almost 90 participants. Continue...

Academia :

"Shielded against risk? European donor coordination in Palestine"

Jan Orbie -- Viktor Opsomer -- Yentyl Williams --
Sarah Delputte -- Joren Verschaeve

Wiley Online Article, 5 November 2020.

Structured Abstract:
...Findings: While donor coordination in Palestine has often been pursued in order to shield against contestation, an opposite dynamic can also emerge whereby one donor succumbs to pressures and thereby contaminates the entire donor group. Our article provides an empirically grounded theorization of co-ordination schemes' sustainability by identifying (a) a five-stage script of how domestic contestation may erode the shield and (b) three conditions for sustainable coordination. Finally, we make suggestions for further research, for instance from a politicization perspective.
Policy implications: Before engaging in far-reaching coordination schemes, donors should consider the possible impact of domestic contestation within fellow donors and the creation of additional protective belts through international organizations. While donor consortia seem to be useful shields against attacks, they may put a heavy burden on all donors involved. Donors that are confident about domestic support should therefore consider going alone...

A pdf of the article is fully accessible in a pre-publication version on this link:

"Palestinian-German Science Bridge" (PGSB)

Ghaleb Natour came to Germany in 1979. Born as a Palestinian in Israel, he saw no future for himself in his home country. 41 years later, in Jülich, he has established the largest German-Palestinian research cooperation in Germany.

(EffZett Forschungszentrum Jülich's Magazine)

Ghaleb Natour developed the initial ideas for cooperation with Palestine in talks with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in 2010. In December 2016, the starting signal was given for the "Palestinian-German Science Bridge" (PGSB), and in March 2020, the BMBF approved its extension to September 2024. The total budget is around 5.8 million euro. More than 20 young women and men are doing their doctorates at Jülich, 16 master students and ten bachelor graduates have completed their theses. The funding programme contributes to the long-term and sustainable establishment and development of the research and technology infrastructure at Palestinian universities. 
"We want to open the programme further, involve universities of applied sciences and take vocational training into account in order to strengthen the mid-level faculty in Palestine," explains Natour. His scientific commitment has long since developed into a matter close to his heart in order to give Palestine a future in science and technology - precisely the future that Ghaleb Natour was denied in his home country.

A letter in support of Prof. David Feldman and the Pears Institute

(Jewish Voice for Labour, Dec 26, 2020):

A recent attack on Professor David Feldman, whose leadership of the Pears Institute is widely admired internationally, has prompted a strong response from British-based scholars of Jewish / non-Jewish relations.

On 2 December, Professor Feldman published an article in The Guardian criticising the attempt by Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, to impose the IHRA working definition of antisemitism on universities. The article acknowledges that "antisemitism does arise in Britain's universities", and argues that universities should protect Jewish students through the application of the law on equality and codes of conduct drawn up on principles which can be applied equally to all religious and racial minorities. 
In response to this article, a comment piece by Philip Spencer and Dave Rich appeared on 15 December on the website of the
Jewish Chronicle, accusing Feldman of "encouraging those who denigrate Jews" and "not taking antisemitism seriously". Their article was given prominent coverage in the news pages of that week's printed paper, in which their accusations were broadly reiterated in the JC's editorial

Firmly repudiating these accusations, and expressing their support and admiration for the work of Professor Feldman and the Pears Insitute, twenty-eight British-based senior scholars of Jewish / non-Jewish relations swiftly signed this letter to the Jewish Chronicle editor.  Continue...

Statement from 420+ Current UK Students on IHRA Definition of Antisemitism (Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Nov 23, 2020):

As students in the UK, we are deeply concerned that the space to bring the facts of the past and ongoing dispossession faced by Palestinians into the public domain, including in UK universities, is under severe threat by the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism with its attached examples. We believe that the definition is a threat to the fundamental right for Palestinians to describe their lived experience of oppression. The discredited definition, and specifically its illustrative examples, conflates anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of the laws, policies and constitutional order of the State of Israel. Continue...

Analyses and Comments :

Amira Hass [FMcM Associates. London, UK].

"When Sharing Data on the Occupation Is Treated as an Intel Breach"

The attempt to explain the meaning of occupation to the occupier is like climbing a slippery wall. Statistics are an effective tool for anyone interested in conceptualization.

Amira Hass (Haaretz, Jan 4, 2021)

One of the editors at Haaretz, we'll call him R., always advises me not to go overboard with numbers. Usually I listen to him, omit a certain breakdown of data or round off some number. The attempt to explain the meaning of occupation to the occupier is like climbing a slippery wall, with few protrusions. The climber is doomed to fall.
It behooves the profession and the soul to redouble the effort to climb, and an editor's advice is sometimes another protuberance or rope to hold onto. Explaining the meaning of oppression to the oppressor is not done for the purpose of empathy, charity or tikkun olam (repairing the world): it's an intelligence activity in its own right, conducted in order to enlighten anyone who thinks that the Palestinian people can be broken. Continue...

Eva Illouz [Credit: Amit Shabi/laif].

"Holocaust, Militarism and Machiavelli's Advice:
How Fear Took Over Israel"

Israel may be the best-defended state in the world, but its people's existence
is based on an ethos of constant fear.

Eva Illouz

(Haaretz, Jan 1, 2021, republished by Jewish Voice for Labour):

[JVL Introduction]

[To understand the conflict in Israel-Palestine we have to understand why Israeli Jews think as they do. This brilliant article in Haaretz by Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz helps us begin to understand. Israeli Jews are afraid. They are not born afraid, but they learn fear from the moment of birth, and their fear is harnessed into a collective fear-driven hate. A similar analysis helps to explain why British diaspora Jews are so frightened of any criticism of Israel, why so many cast Israel's critics as hate objects.]

...Of all political emotions, fear is the worst, because it places our most precious possessions - freedom and democracy - in the hands of unworthy leaders; because it stifles complex thinking; and because it erases morality and encourages self-righteousness. Unworthy leaders govern through fear. It's not by chance that Caligula, the abominable and cruel 1st-century Roman emperor, is remembered for having said of his citizens: "Oderint dum metuant" - Let them hate, as long as they fear. Continue...

Eva Illouz holds the Rose Isaac Chair in sociology at Hebrew University and is a senior research fellow at the Van Leer Institute.

Martin Buber in Jerusalem home, 1963. (Image property of the Martin Buber Literary Estate)

"'The land will sink beneath your feet' - a century of Jews wrestling with Zionism".

Steve France (Mondoweiss via Jewish Voice for Labour, Dec 16):

Daphna Levit's new book, "Wrestling with Zionism: Jewish Voices of Dissent" (April 2020), offers a concise introduction to 20 major Jewish critics of political Zionism since its inception in the 1890s. The book is a treasure trove of anti-Zionist zingers. On a deeper level, the presentation of these dissenters as an ensemble shows how difficult it has been, even for such independent-minded individuals, to entirely escape the gravitational pull of Zionism. Deeper yet, the book shows that, after more than a century, Zionism can't be salvaged - the idea of a Jewish State must be abandoned. Some of the most withering attacks on Zionism, in fact, have come from Jews who nevertheless retained a Zionist perspective. Continue...

Pre-eminent Israeli public intellectual, Yeshaya Leibowitz

"Conflating Judaism and Zionism: Bad for the Jews"

Richard Silverstein (Tikun Olam, Dec 27, 2020):

Often arguments over political or religious terms used in everyday discourse are dry or the province purely of zealots. But these terms can develop a power all their own. Religious or political zealots take them to heart and make life and death decisions based on their interpretation. This is the case regarding Judaism and Zionism.
Israel's founding document and sacred text of Zionism, the Declaration of Independence, defined the state as "Jewish" and inextricably tied to the Diaspora, which was anticipated to ensure its future by furnishing much of its immigrant population. Later in 1985, Israel's Basic Law added the term "democratic," thus yoking the two words inextricably. Continue...

"Ghassan Kanafani, anticolonialiste, écrivain et journaliste"

(ballast, 28 déc 2020)

Il compte comme l'une des voix importantes de la littérature palestinienne. De la lutte anticolonialiste, aussi. Assassiné par les services secrets israéliens en 1972, Ghassan Kanafani était le porte-parole de l'une des principales formations palestiniennes, le Front populaire de libération de la Palestine (FPLP) - une organisation marxiste-léniniste fondée cinq ans plus tôt, au lendemain de la guerre des Six Jours, c'est-à-dire de la défaite arabe et du triplement de l'emprise territoriale israélienne. Combinant lutte armée et idéologique, le FPLP affichait son opposition à l'occupation comme aux forces réactionnaires arabes (féodales ou capitalistes). Il entendait, par tous les moyens, « faire sortir la question palestinienne de l'anonymat », et aspirait à terme à la création d'un État unique, laïc et socialiste, assurant aux deux peuples une égale citoyenneté sur la terre historique de Palestine. Portrait.

"The Balfour Declaration: A study in British duplicity"

Avi Shlaim (Middle East Eye, 1 Nov 2017):

It's been nearly 100 years since the document changed the course of history, yet Britain still fails to acknowledge Israel's denial of the Palestinian right to national self-determination - and its own complicity.
The Balfour Declaration, issued on 2 November 1917, was a short document which changed the course of history. It committed the British government to support the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, provided nothing was done "to prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine".
At that time, the Jews constituted 10 percent of the population of Palestine: 60,000 Jews and just over 600,000 Arabs. Yet Britain chose to recognise the right to national self-determination of the tiny minority and to flatly deny it to the undisputed majority. In the words of the Jewish writer Arthur Koestler: here was one nation promising another nation the land of a third nation.



170 Latin American Academics Endorse Boycott of Complicit Israeli Academic Institutions

Academics from 17 Latin American countries have signed a public declaration for the boycott of complicit Israeli academic institutions.

Latin America BDS Coordination (Dec 16, 2020):

Among the signatories are anthropologist Ochy Curiel, Colombian anthropologist Arturo Escobar, Maya-Kaqchikel thinker Aura Cumes Simón, Chilean historian Igor Alexis Goicovic Donoso, Chilean historian Sergio Grez Toso, Chilean artist Ingrid Wildi Merino, Argentine philosopher (based in Mexico) Silvana Rabinovich, Colombian philosopher María del Rosario Acosta, Chilean philosopher Rodrigo Karmy Bolton and Colombian philosopher Laura Quintana.
In their statement, the signatories commit not to participate in any type of academic exchange or cooperation with or accept funding from complicit Israeli institutions or the State of Israel. In addition, they call on Latin American universities to suspend cooperation with complicit Israeli institutions, until Israel respects the UN- sanctioned political and human rights of the Palestinian people.

The full list of signatories will be released in 2021. In the meantime, university professors or researchers in Latin America can read the statement and add their signature here.

Top 20 impacts of our collective work for justice in 2020

...11. Campus Divestment Victories: The University of Manchester (UK) divested nearly £2 million from companies complicit in Israel's oppression. In the US, students at Columbia University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and San Francisco State University all voted to divest from Israeli apartheid. Continue...

This year saw successful achievements by activists, students, civil rights defenders and lawmakers to uphold the right to boycott Israel. Konrad K. SIPA.

"What were the top BDS victories of 2020?"

Nora Barrows-Friedman (The Electronic Intifada, 30 Dec 2020):

2020 was surely a year like no other. Yet despite the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a successful year for the global Palestinian rights movement. There were plenty of direct actions, court victories and significant calls to sanction Israel over its violations of international law. 
This year saw achievements by activists, students, civil rights defenders and lawmakers to uphold the right to boycott Israel - even as lawmakers, Israel lobby groups and the Israeli government itself attempted to derail, smear, attack and imprison organizers.
"Despite its massive investment of financial, political, diplomatic, propaganda and intelligence resources in its war against the BDS movement, Israel has failed, as some of its own lobby groups today admit," says the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the steering group for the Palestinian-led BDS campaign. Continue...

"Victoire BDS ! Séville annule la foire européenne des armes électroniques" (Charleroi pour la Palestine, 16 décembre):

Dans un communiqué de presse publié par la mairie de Séville, le conseiller municipal du logement, du tourisme et de la culture, Antonio Muñoz, a annoncé l'annulation de la foire aux armes « Electronic Warfare Europe » qui devait avoir lieu au palais des expositions et des congrès de Fibes à Séville en mai 2021. Continue...

Jaap Hamburger, "Verwijt antisemitisme misbruikt om kritiek op Israël te smoren" (nrc, 17 dec):

Het aanstellen van een coördinator antisemitismebestrijding zou een principiële vergissing en een politieke misstap zijn, betoogt Jaap Hamburger, voorzitter van stichting Een Ander Joods Geluid (EAJG). - Nederland krijgt een Nationaal coördinator discriminatie en racisme. Dat heeft het kabinet verleden week besloten. In juni dit jaar had de Tweede Kamer het kabinet hierom verzocht. Het kabinet kondigde ook een onderzoek aan naar de juiste invulling van die functie... Paradoxaal genoeg heeft de Kamer het kabinet ook gevraagd een Nationaal coördinator antisemitismebestrijding in het leven te roepen bij het ministerie van Justitie en Veiligheid. Aanvankelijk zat het kabinet daar niet op te wachten. Continue...

COVID-19 in the oPt:

A woman walks past a mural encouraging the wearing of face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic in Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip. [Adel Hana/AP]

"COVID in besieged Gaza: 'A blockade inside a blockade'"

With infections surging, COVID-19 has exacerbated the Palestinian enclave's already dire living conditions in 2020.

Maram Humaid (AlJazeera, Dec 26):

When 2020 arrived, the conditions in Gaza were marked by water and medicine shortages as well as a severe power crisis, with residents of the enclave receiving only up to six hours of electricity per day, a situation some called "no longer tolerable". The coronavirus - which swept across the world this year, infecting tens of millions and upending life in nearly every country - has only exacerbated Gaza's woes.
"People in Gaza had enough in their lives, moving from a crisis to another without a break," said Mahmoud Abu Samaan, 34, an employee at the Hamas-run Ministry of Communication.

Authorities in Gaza close off a road in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, in an attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19, 3 Sept. Ashraf Amra APA images.

"Israel's vaccine rollout excludes Palestinians"

Omar Karmi (The Electronic Intifada, 29 Dec, 2020):

Israel is rolling out its COVID-19 vaccine campaign in haste. On Christmas Day, the country had the second most prolific program in the world. But the rollout is selective... In occupied territory, Israel is making a distinction based purely on citizenship and religion. Israeli citizens and/or Jewish settlers in its illegal colonies are eligible for the vaccine; non-Israelis, including Palestinian Muslims and Christians, are not. Continue...

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana's statement did not single out Palestinian inmates, but there are no non-Palestinian security prisoners in Israel (AFP)

"Israeli minister orders jails not to vaccinate Palestinian security prisoners"

Order defies health ministry guidelines that prisoners should be part of second group of Israelis to be vaccinated.

(Middle East Eye, Dec 27, 2020)

Israel's Public Security Minister Amir Ohana told the country's prison service late last week not to inoculate Palestinian security prisoners, an Israeli newspaper has revealed. The order came despite health ministry guidelines that prisoners should be part of the second group of Israelis to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 coronavirus, together with security personnel, Haaretz wrote on Sunday. The report came as Israel began its third coronavirus lockdown at 5pm (15:00 GMT) on Sunday, with most people forced to stay within 1,000 metres of their home. 
The office of the minister said that only prison staff should be vaccinated because "there should be no inoculating security prisoners without approval and in line with vaccination progress among the general population," the newspaper said. 
lthough Ohana's statement did not single out Palestinian inmates, there are no non-Palestinian security prisoners in Israel.

A Palestinian mother entertain her children with makeshift masks made of cabbage as she cooks in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on April 16, 2020.Credit: MOHAMMED ABED - AFP

"COVID Vaccines for Gaza Isn't Charity. It's Israel's Legal and Humanitarian Duty"

Israel is exploiting Hamas' helplessness to halt the spread of the coronavirus and conditioning aid for the pandemic on the return of Israeli captives and missing soldiers.

Gada Majadli* (Haaretz, Dec 29, 2020)

Let's start from the end: Israel has a legal and humanitarian duty toward the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem - as an occupying power that has imposed a years-long blockade of Gaza, and as the party that controls all aspects of life in the occupied territories through control of checkpoints, natural resources, determinants of health and more.
Tales of Palestinian autonomy and an independent state in the framework of the
Oslo Accords evaporate whenever an Israeli army jeep enters Ramallah or Jenin at will, whenever Israeli soldiers invade the homes of Palestinians in Al-Mughayyir and forcibly remove minors from their houses, and whenever a sick person, a man, woman, child or senior citizen, waits for an Israeli permit to travel to a Palestinian hospital in the West Bank or East Jerusalem for medical treatment. Continue...

The writer is the director of the Occupied Territories department for Physicians for Human Rights.

International :

The Democratic Barack Obama Administration increased US funding to Israel by a significant margin. (Photo: File)

"The US Money Tree: The Untold Story of American Aid to Israel"

Ramzy Baroud (The Palestine Chronicle, Dec 30, 2020)

On December 21, the United States Congress passed the COVID-19 Relief Package, as part of a larger $2.3 trillion bill meant to cover spending for the rest of the fiscal year. As usual, US representatives allocated a massive sum of money for Israel. While unemployment, thus poverty, in the US is skyrocketing as a result of repeated lockdowns, the US found it essential to provide Israel with $3.3 billion in 'security assistance' and $500 million for US-Israel missile defense cooperation.
Although a meager $600 dollar payment to help struggling American families was the subject of several months of intense debate, there was little discussion among American politicians over the large funds handed out to Israel, for which there are no returns. Continue...

Statistics are based on 2017 numbers provided by the Israel Defence Forces and the Lone Soldier Centre in Israel. (IDF/Facebook)

"Israel illegally recruits Canadian citizens to its army"

Nora Barrows-Friedman (The Electronic Intifada, Dec 21):

Human rights activists are demanding an end to the Israeli military's recruitment of Canadians, which violates the laws of that country. The Canadian government has so far refused to enforce its laws, allowing Israel to continue the practice. Canadians joined Zionist militias during the Nakba, the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1947 and 1948. The Israeli army has boasted in recent years that it has enlisted hundreds of Canadian citizens to its occupation military, joining other foreigners including those from the US.  Continue...

Palestinians protest Israeli violations against the al-Aqsa Mosque in Nablus, West Bank, July 25th, 2017. Photo: Mohammed Turabi/ImagesLive/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News.

"The Palestinian Cause at a Moment of Transition"
Roundtabel discussion: Inès Abdel Razek , Salem Barahmeh,
Dana El Kurd & Fadi Quran (Jewish Currents
, Dec 21):

Over the last four years, the Trump administration has pursued a relentlessly anti-Palestinian agenda in the Middle East. Indeed, while Trump' impact on domestic US policy may turn out to be fleeting, the impact of his administration's Middle East policies will be felt by the people of Israel/Palestine for many years to come. 
Jewish Currents reached out to a group of leading Palestinian intellectuals, analysts, and activists to discuss the future of the movement for Palestinian liberation during the current moment of political transition. All in their 30s, Dana El-Kurd, Inès Abdel Razek, Salem Barahmeh, and Fadi Quran represent a new generation of Palestinian thinkers. They are among the sharpest critics of the political impasse the Palestinian cause faces, both within historical Palestine and in the diaspora, and they are consistently unafraid to raise big, fundamental questions - for instance, about the limits of the nation-state. That boldness and incisiveness is on display in this roundtable discussion, conducted in early December. Continue...

Ciaran Tierney, "Ireland clings to advice from disgraced judge on Israel trade" (EI, 23 Dec):

Ireland's government is signaling that it will rely on advice from a disgraced judge to keep blocking a proposed ban on imports from Israel's illegal settlements. The 'Occupied Territories Bill' - as the proposed ban is known - was placed once again on the legislative schedule for the Dáil, the lower house in the national parliament, earlier this month. The bill had previously won support from majorities in both houses of the Oireachtas - the Irish parliament - ahead of a general election held in February. Yet it has been prevented from entering into force by Simon Coveney, the foreign minister. Continue...

[Seamus Woulfe, a disgraced judge, wants Ireland to allow imports from Israel's illegal settlements. Niall Carson ZUMA Press]

Peter Beinart, "How "Pro-Israel" Orthodoxy Keeps US Foreign Policymaking White" (Jewish Currents, Dec 22):

In October, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who is seeking re-election in Georgia, released an ad called "Birds of Prey" attacking her Democratic opponent, Raphael Warnock. The title refers to a sermon Warnock gave during protests in the Gaza Strip in 2018, in which he accused the Israeli government of shooting "unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey." In a statement accompanying the ad, Loeffler called Warnock "the most anti-Israel candidate anywhere in the country." The next month, she unveiled a new commercial, which again denounced Warnock as "anti-Israel." When the two candidates debated in December, she accused him of having "called Israel an apartheid state." Continue...

Israel :

Mordechai Vanunu seen at the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem
as he arrives for a court hearing, December 3, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

"Praising the Ashkenazi spy, punishing the Mizrahi dissident"

For Israel, Jonathan Pollard's aiding of the Jewish state erases the criminality of his treason; Mordechai Vanunu's whistleblowing makes him a threat.

Omri Najad (+972, Dec 31, 2020):

While Pollard's offense was by all accounts treacherous, the fact that he acted on behalf of the Jewish state, in the eyes of the Israeli right, erases the criminality of his treason. Vanunu's politics, on the other hand, pose a central threat to the Israeli regime, offering a vision of freedom and equality for all rather than oppression for Palestinians and crumbs for Mizrahim. Vanunu's biggest crime, then, was that he broke out of the narrow box Zionism had designed for Mizrahim like him. Continue...

A Jewish student group tours the crematorium at Auschwitz. Photo: Grabowski Foto via Shutterstock.

"A Little Bit Nazi"

Mitchell Abidor (Jewish Currents, Dec 3):

Discussed in this essay: "The Memory Monster," by Yishai Sarid, 
Restless Books, 2020, 176 p.

THE IMAGE has become a familiar one: A group of young Israelis is visiting Auschwitz, many of them wrapped in the Israeli flag. They chant the Kaddish; they sing songs; together, they are a phoenix that has risen from the literal ashes of the millions of Jews killed by the Nazis. Their mere existence seems to be proclaiming vengeance wrought on Hitler. They are young; they are beautiful; they are noble. 
But in The Memory Monster- a brilliant, challenging, and uncompromising novel by the Israeli writer Yishai Sarid, recently translated from the Hebrew by Yardenne Greenspan - they are something far more sinister. In this grim portrait of an Israeli scholar who makes his living leading tours of the hell of the camps, Sarid, son of the late left-wing politician Yossi Sarid, forces us to question the complacency and moral blindness that accompanies the centrality of the Holocaust in Israeli life. It's a blindness broadly on display in Israeli Holocaust memorialization, currently epitomized in the nomination of Effi Eitam - a far-right politician and former general who advocates the expulsion of Palestinians from their lands and their exclusion from political life - to head Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial. 

A file picture taken at the Israeli foreign ministry on October 15, 2015, shows PM Netanyahu (L) sitting next to Yossi Cohen, who is currently the head of Israel's National Security Council, and who was named as the 12th head of the Mossad intelligence agency by Netanyahu on December 7, 2015 [GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images].

"Netanyahu is a symptom, not the cause of Israel's political crisis"

Ramzy Baroud (Middle East Monitor, Dec 22, 2020):

It is convenient to surmise that Israel's current political crisis is consistent with the country's unfailing trajectory of short-lived governments and fractious ruling coalitions. While this view is somewhat defensible, it is also hasty. 
Israel is currently on the cusp of a fourth general election in less than two years. Even by its own crisis-ridden political standards, this is unprecedented, not only in terms of the frequency of how often Israelis vote, but also of the constant shifting in possible coalitions and seemingly strange alliances. It seems that the only constant in coalition-forming after each election is that Arab parties must not, under any circumstances, be allowed into government. Continue...

Avraham "Avrum" Burg. Credit: Emil Salman. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

"A Scion of Zionist Aristocracy Wants to Quit the Jewish
People. Will Israel Let Him?"

Why Avraham Burg, who has served as Knesset speaker, interim president and head of the Jewish Agency, is asking Israel to annul his registration as a Jew.

Ravit Hecht (Haaretz, Dec 31, 2020):

This extraordinary act, which seems light-years away from most of Burg's well-known public activity, comes in the wake of the enactment in 2018 of the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People. "The meaning of that law is that a citizen of Israel who is not Jewish will suffer from having an inferior status, similar to what the Jews suffered for untold generations," Burg states in his affidavit. "What is abhorrent to us, we are now doing to our non-Jewish citizens."  Continue...

President of the Israeli Supreme Court Esther Hayut seen during a hearing on petitions against the Jewish Nation-State Law, Jerusalem, Dec 22, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

"The Nation-State Law had its day in court, as did
the farce of Israeli democracy"

Orly Noy (+972, Dec 24):

During the hearing, the High Court justices saw no problem with demoting the status of Arabic and claimed that 'equality' is something best left for the future.
Two-and-a-half years after the Knesset passed the Jewish Nation-State Law, which constitutionally enshrined second-class status for Israel's Palestinian citizens, the High Court of Justice held its first hearing on the law on Tuesday. The law was petitioned by 15 different groups and individuals... There was also the Mizrahi petition, which I had the privilege of being among its initiators and signatories, and which argues that the law erases Mizrahi cultural legacy while perpetuating injustices against Jews who hail from Arab countries as well as Palestinian citizens of Israel.  Continue...

Jonathan Cook, "Former general who called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians picked to head Israel's Holocaust museum" (Mondoweiss, Dec 18. [Credit: Juda S. Engelmayer, Wikimedia]):

Netanyahu's choice of Effi Eitam to lead Yad Vashem is another sign of how racist hyper-nationalism is the mainstream of Israeli politics. - Echoing language used against Jews by the Nazis, Eitam has described Israel's large minority of Palestinian citizens - one in five of the country's population - as a "cancer", adding that "by the time you grasp the size of the threat, it is already too late to deal with it."  A petition from 750 leading Jewish studies and Holocaust scholars (google.doc) was published last month. Continue...

Mazal Mualem, "Paradox: Netanyahu now protected by Israeli Arab legislator" (Al-Monitor, Dec 15):

PM Netanyahu who has denigrated Israeli Arab legislators for years, depends now on Knesset member Mansour Abbas for his political survival. - The number of pieces on PM Netanyahu's sprawling political chessboard dropped significantly last week. Today, with those pieces gone, so are the number of moves available to ensure his survival. This all began when former minister Gideon Sa'ar left the Likud to form a party of his own and announced his intent to run for prime minister.  Continue...

"Haredi population growing twice as fast as overall Israeli population - report" (Stuart Winer, The Times of Israel, Dec 31, 2020):

In its fifth annual statistical assessment of ultra-Orthodox society, the Israel Democracy Institue examined developments in such areas as standard of living, education, employment, social mobility, leisure, and lifestyle. The study found that the ultra-Orthodox, also known as Haredi, population in Israel numbers around 1.175 million, showing an annual growth rate of 4.2% over the past decade, over twice the 1.9% shown by the rest of the Israeli population and over three times that of the rest of the Israeli Jewish population (excluding the Haredi population), 1.2%. The Haredi community's portion of the general population has grown from 10% in 2009 to 12.6% in 2020, the report said. Continue...

Palestine Occupied :

"PCHR: Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations
in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (24-30 December)"

(IMEMC, January 1, 2021):

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continued to commit crimes and multi-layered violations against Palestinian civilians and their properties, including raids into Palestinian cities that are characterized with excessive use of force, assault, abuse and attacks on civilians that are mostly conducted after midnight and in the early morning hours. This week witnessed an escalation in settler attacks, mainly stone throwing at civilian houses and vehicles in the West Bank. Additionally, IOF demolitions of Palestinian homes and properties continued as part of Israel's de facto annexation and under various pretexts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Also, this week, IOF warplanes launched several air strikes in the Gaza Strip, wounding 3 civilians and causing extensive damage to civilian objects.
This week, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) documented 225 violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL) by IOF and settlers in the oPt.

Mohammed Hamad, left, and his son Bashar after the younger Hamad lost an eye in an encounter with the Border Police, Qalandiyah refugee camp, West Bank, Dec 2020. Credit: Amira Hass.

"Palestinian Teenagers Bashar and Yousef Join a Grim Statistic: Shot by Israeli Forces"

787 West Bank Palestinians, including 155 minors, were wounded last year by either sponge-tipped or live bullets fired by soldiers and the Border Police. Bashar lost an eye, Yousef has skull fractures. Both will require long convalescences.

Amira Hass (Haaretz, 3 Jan 2021):

Bashar Hamad, 16, of the Qalandiyah refugee camp and Yousef Taha, 17, of Kafr Qaddum don't know each other. But they form part of the unseen statistic of Palestinians shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank last year. Of the total, 632 were wounded by sponge- or rubber-tipped metal bullets, including 127 minors, while 155 were wounded by live fire, including 28 minors. And that's on top of the 1,513 who were suffocated by tear gas and needed treatment on the spot or at a clinic, among them 195 minors. The two teens have something else in common: The soldiers' bullets hit them in the head.

An image of the incident in which Abu Aram was shot in the village of al-Rakiz in the southern Hebron Hills, January 1, 2021.

"Whitewashing by the Israeli Army Isn't Only Callous, It's Criminal"

Gideon Levy (Haaretz, Jan 2, 2021):

An armed robbery that deteriorated into a murder attempt took place Friday in the remote South Hebron Hills village of Al-Rakiz. The armed robbers, in uniform, tried to steal a generator in broad daylight and in full view. The robbers tried to load the generator onto their vehicle as its rightful owners, three unarmed shepherds, tried to save their property with their bare hands. The generator is a lifeline for these shepherds, whose village is not allowed to connect to the water or electricity supply. That's why they fought for it with all their meager strength.
Then came the twist in the plot: As the generator passed from hand to hand and the curses continued, one of the robbers lost patience. Shabbat was coming; he wanted to leave with his plunder. What does an impatient robber do? He shoots, to end the saga.
Two shots were fired; one hit the mark. Harun Abu Aram, 24, who struggled with those trying to steal his property, fell backward. The robber had fired from six feet away, hitting him in the throat.

Harun Abu Aram seen in a Hebron hospital after being shot in the neck by an Israeli soldier. (Alliance for Human Rights)

"He grabbed his generator. They shot him in the neck"

Harun Abu Aram, whose home was demolished last month, was shot by a soldier at point-blank range while trying to take back his generator. All so Israel could take his land.

Yuval Abraham (+972, Jan 3, 2021):

On Friday afternoon, an Israeli soldier shot a 26-year-old Palestinian named Harun Abu Aram in the neck from point blank range. Abu Aram is now in critical condition in a hospital in Hebron in the occupied West Bank. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, should he be responsive, Abu Aram will likely be paralyzed.
The shooting took place near the Palestinian village of al-Rakiz in the South Hebron Hills. Just a month ago, the army came with bulldozers to demolish four homes in the community; Abu Aram's was one of those homes. Contrary to the Israeli army's claims, the residents of al-Rakiz are no criminals. They built their homes on their land in accordance with the law. The army destroyed them because the Civil Administration - the arm of Israel's military government that runs the day-to-day life of 2.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank - refuses to issue building permits to the community. In fact, the Civil Administration rejects 98.7 percent of requests for building permits by Palestinians living in the 164 villages in Area C - an area that makes up two thirds of the West Bank and is under full Israeli military and administrative control.
The point of this bureaucratic obstinance is to immiserate the lives of Palestinians to the point that they leave. Why? Because if they leave, it will be easier for Israel to annex the land in the future without having to grant anyone Israeli citizenship. A simple demographic calculation. Continue...

Israeli bulldozers can be seen after demolishing the Arab Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb [Sarah Stern, Twitter]

"Al-Arâkib Village Demolished For 181st Time."

Israeli soldiers demolished the Bedouin Palestinian village of al-Arâkib, in the occupied Negev, for the 181st time in recent years and the tenth this year alone.

(IMEMC News, Dec 18, 2020):

The Palestinians in the village always rebuild their shacks, barns, and tents every time Israel demolishes their small village, despite the massive destruction and losses, in addition to the fines and fees [Israeli Court ordered them to pay the cost of their eviction]. Eyewitnesses said a large police force and personnel of the so-called Negev Development Authority, invaded the village and started demolishing and removing tents, sheds and barns, in addition to uprooting their crops. They added that the soldiers also destroyed a dirt road that leads to the local graveyard, to prevent the Palestinians from using it.
Prior to Thursday's destruction of the village, it was last demolished on November 19th, 2020, but the villages remain determined to stay on their lands. In 2005, Israel approved the so-called "Negev Development Plan" aiming at building shopping centers and tourist areas, but at the same time displacing around some 65.000 Bedouins living in what Israel refers to as "unrecognized villages."   

Israeli forces remove a trailer they claim was placed illegally in Area C on 6 February (AFP).

"How Israel is waging war on Palestinians in Area C"

With the world distracted by Covid-19 and 'peace deals,' Israel is seeking an irreversible displacement in the occupied West Bank.

Ben White (Middle East Eye, Sept 20, 2020):

A new report in the Israeli publication Haaretz has shed fresh light on Israel's intensifying demolition campaign in Palestinian communities, leading to a stark conclusion: Israel is conducting a "war" against the very existence of Palestinians in Area C, 60 percent of the occupied West Bank. Meetings were held by the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee in late July and mid-August, and the subject was "the Palestinian takeover of Area C". Continue...

A Palestinian woman examines the damage in her house after a night raid by Israeli soldiers, Balata Refugee Camp, West Bank, January 3, 2017. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/

"We were armed, we destroyed her kitchen,
and we moved on."

Israelis like to think that military home invasions are only for security reasons. Former soldiers - and Palestinian families - know that's not the truth.

Nadav Weiman (+972, Dec 10, 2020)

When you talk to Israelis about the occupation, they tend to think of checkpoints. Abroad, people think about the separation wall. But as a former Israeli soldier who regularly carried out home invasions, I think about one Palestinian child that I came to arrest in the middle of the night. About his father, who charged at the biggest soldier in our squad. And about how I would have done exactly the same if I were in his place... 
There is no discussion in Israel about invading Palestinian homes in the occupied territories. It is a routine operation that almost every Israeli combat soldier is familiar with, but you won't find pundits talking about it on the news, and you certainly won't find stories about it in the newspaper. The closest the media comes to covering these incursions is in breaking news alerts that declare: "Five wanted Palestinians arrested tonight." Continue...

"Israeli forces carry out a land incursion and threaten to remove Palestinian farmers' crops"

Al Mezan condemns the act and calls for international intervention.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (press release, Dec 18, 2020):

On Wednesday morning, 16 December 2020, Israeli military bulldozers crossed the perimeter fence into the Gaza Strip, east of Khan Younis, reaching up to 200 meters into agricultural lands in Abasan al-Kabira, Khuza'a, and al-Fukhari. For hours, Israeli troops razed and leveled Palestinian lands and crops - some of which had been prepared for planting - and eventually left placards written in both Arabic and Hebrew demanding that the Palestinian farmers uproot their crops in the area "within a certain time frame" otherwise the military "is going to remove them."

Photo by Mosab Shawar / Hanthala News Agency.

"Israeli Settlers Escalate their Crimes Against Palestinians"

(IMEMC News, Dec 12):

A large crowd of illegal Israeli settlers, on Saturday, under the protection of occupation soldiers, led an assault on Palestinian civilians in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
Palestinian WAFA News Agency correspondent reported that dozens of Israeli colonists, threw rocks and yelled hateful and racist slogans at Palestinians in Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron.

Photo: Armed settler-colonists threaten Palestinians in their home village Safa'i in the South Hebron Hills on Saturday, December 19, 2020.

"Settler hate crimes escalating beyond already high 'routine', army helps erect settler outposts, destroys Palestinian homes and farm buildings "

Ta'ayush: This week - Dec 20-26, 2020 - in the Occupied Territories

Occupation magazine - Settlements:

Serious escalation in crimes committed by settlers against Palestinians and their property throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem this week; a new outpost was set up under protection of the Israeli army on privately-owned Palestinian land of Deir Jarayer, close to the site where Ahuviya Sandak was killed - Palestinian locals and activists who came to protest were violently chased away by the Israeli army; protest demonstrators from Salfit against the new outpost close to their town were dispersed by teargas and stun grenades; house demolitions in the South Hebron Hills and in neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Continue...

[In the fall of 2000 we joined together to form "Ta'ayush" (Arabic for "living together"), a grassroots movement of Arabs and Jews working to break down the walls of racism and segregation by constructing a true Arab-Jewish partnership.]

The ruins of a demolished home in Fasayil, the West Bank. Credit: Alex Levac.

"The Latest in Jewish Morality: House Demolitions, Displacement, Settlement Construction"

Amira Hass (Haaretz, Nov 2):

Last Wednesday a unit from Civil Administration and the Israel Defense Forces destroyed a 1.5-kilometer water pipeline, and in doing so cut off the villages of Mughayer al-Abid and Khirbet Al-Majaz in the Masafer Yatta (Hebron district) from their water supply.
The descendants of the prophets are convinced that the Palestinians don't need water like us, the Jews. The descendants of the survivors decided that supplying water in pipes to Palestinians in 62% of
the West Bank contradicts the law and tradition of our forefathers.
Israel claims it has a right to expel the residents from their villages so
the IDF can conduct training exercises with live fire in the area. That is why it forbids them to link up to the infrastructure and destroys roads that they widened and cleared of rocks. The Jewish state knows that not all of them will be able to continue to live like that, and will leave. In other words, the Israelis expel and pretend that it's a matter of free choice.  

A general overview of Batan al-Hawa. For years, hardline Israeli settlers have been trying to evict Palestinian families from their homes in this East Jerusalem neighborhood. (Kelly Kunzl)

"Families face imminent evictions in East Jerusalem"

Kelly Kunzl (The Electronic Intifada, Dec 24):

Mazen Dweik had been warned multiple times by members of the Israeli settler organization Ateret Cohanim. If he refused to sell his house in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Batan al-Hawa to the settlers, they would make sure he and his family lost everything in court. Last month, that threat became a reality when a Jerusalem district court upheld a ruling in favor of the far-right group to evict all 30 members - including 12 children - of the Dweik residence. Judges rejected the final appeal made by the family in February against a ruling relinquishing full property rights to Ateret Cohanim and ending a more than decade-long legal battle. Continue...

Israeli settlement units in Jerusalem on 25 October 2017 [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images].

"Israeli infrastructure projects aid the de facto annexation of Palestinian land"

Ramona Wadi (Middle East Monitor, Dec 15):

If we were to listen only to the international community's rhetoric about the impending Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory, the impression would be that the plans are more obsolete than the two-state compromise. It is impossible to forget how, at the first inkling of Arab leaders' capitulation to Israel in terms of normalising relations, notably the United Arab Emirates, the international community treated the postponement of the annexation plan as its demise. However, while the formalisation of Israel's colonial expansion has been delayed - not abandoned, as even US officials ventured forth to clarify - the Zionist state approved additional illegal settlement and infrastructure plans...
While the US-Israeli scheming, in particular the so-called "deal of the century", popularised annexation in terms of US President Donald Trump's series of ongoing concessions to Israel, the "sovereignty through transportation" policy planned by Israel illustrates the de-facto annexation towards which Israel is now moving. The plan is to link Jerusalem with colonial settlements in the occupied West Bank.   Continue...

Prisoners :

Palestinians in Gaza protest after a Palestinian prisoner died of 'medical negligence' in an Israeli prison. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle).

Report: "In 2020, Israel Detained 4636 Palestinians, Including 543 Minors, 128 Women"

(The Palestine Chronicle, Dec 31, 2020)

The Detainees and Ex-Detainees Commission, the Palestinian Prisoner Society, Addameer for Prisoners' Support and Human Rights, and Wadi Hilweh Information Center, said in their joint report on the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails by the end of 2020 that the number of Palestinian prisoners in Israel is about 4400, including 40 women, 170 minors, and 26 held since before the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993. They said 380 Palestinians are still held in administrative detention, while four prisoners have died of illness this year while incarcerated. 
A total of 543 prisoners are serving various life terms, including five who were sentenced to life in prison in 2020, and one prisoner, Abdullah Barghouti, serving 67 life terms. The report said some 700 prisoners are considered ill, among them 300 who are chronically ill and 10 of them, including 81-year-old Fouad Shoubaki, the oldest prisoner, have cancer and are in need of special medical treatment. Israel is also keeping the bodies of eight prisoners who died while in prison and refuses to release them to their families for burial, but instead keeps them to use them as a bargaining chip in future deals with the Palestinians

"Al Mezan condemns Israel's decision not to vaccinate Palestinian prisoners and calls on the international community to urgently intervene"

(Press release, Dec 30, 2020):

The Minister's office released a statement, on 24 December 2020, instructing the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) not to inoculate 'security' prisoners despite including instructions to initiate inoculation of ISP staff. Although the statement did not directly refer to Palestinian inmates, there are no non-Palestinian 'security' prisoners in Israel. In a follow-up statement, the Minister's office stated "there should be no inoculating security prisoners without approval." 

Monthly report: "413 Palestinians detained by Israeli occupation in November 2020"

Samidoun - Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network (Dec 18):

During Nov 2020, occupation forces seized 157 Palestinians from Jerusalem, 40 from Ramallah and Al-Bireh, 74 from al-Khalil, 31 from Jenin, 33 from Bethlehem, 30 from Nablus, 18 from Tulkarem, 18 from Qalqilya, 3 from Jericho, 7 from Tubas, one from Salfit and one from Gaza. The total number of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in occupation prisons was approximately 4,400 prisoners, including 41 women prisoners, 170 child prisoners and 380 administrative detainees jailed without charge or trial. 102 administrative detention orders were issued in November, including 47 new orders and 55 renewed/extended orders. Continue...

"Abdulrahman Odeh, un des Holy Land Five, est enfin libre !"

Luk Vervaet (Acid*, Déc 26, 2020):

Décembre 2020. Après quinze ans d'incarcération dans les prisons américaines, Abdulrahman Odeh est enfin libre. Avant de pouvoir rejoindre sa famille, Abdulrahman devra encore faire un passage dans une « maison de transition ». Il y a quinze ans, il avait été incarcéré dans le cadre de l'affaire de la Holy Land Foundation 5 (HLF5), la plus grande organisation caritative pour les enfants de la Palestine aux Etats-Unis, qui était mise sur la liste des organisations terroristes américaines. Continue...

Ahmad Abu Amer, "Hamas prisoners elect leadership behind bars" (Al-Monitor, Dec 15):

Despite being locked away in Israeli prisons, Hamas members elect a new leadership body every two years that wields great influence within the movement and participates in its major decisions. - Hamas members incarcerated in Israeli prisons held elections Dec.10 to choose the leadership body representing them to the Israel Prison Service (IPS). The elected members, all prisoners, are in charge of organizing the administrative, cultural, political and financial affairs for Hamas prisoners. The new body, which includes prominent figures from Hamas' armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, will serve from Jan. 1, 2021, to the end of 2023. Continue...

Refugees :

A Palestinian man walks past a mural about Palestinian refugees drawn on a wall along a street in Gaza City on 8 November (AFP).

"Palestinians can now see their stolen property in the database we've made public"

A comprehensive database of private property belonging to Palestinian refugees in the territory occupied by Israel in 1948 has been opened to the public.

Nasser Qudwa (Middle East Eye, Dec 11, 2020):

If US President Donald Trump's foreign policy worked heavily against multilateralism and the basic principles of a rules-based world order, when it came to Israel-Palestine, the focus was even more vicious. Rather than just pushing pro-Israel positions, Trump fully endorsed an extremist pro-annexation narrative, presenting a plan that perpetuated Israel's denial of Palestinian national rights. It not only encouraged illegal colonial settlements, but also negated Palestinian refugee rights. The US aimed to pre-empt several final status issues, including Jerusalem, settlements and refugees, by going beyond even Israel's stated positions.
 Whoever accesses this database will realise not only the great injustices inflicted upon the Palestinian people, but also how much Israel has profited from Palestinian refugee property
Trying to dismantle UNRWA, the United Nations agency that aids Palestinian refugees, was a key part of the Trump team's strategy. Yet, what they did not realise is how solidly enshrined Palestinian rights are within the UN system - particularly refugee rights.

A view from Jabaliya refugee camp as Palestinians trying to live under hard conditions, on 17 December 2020 in Gaza City, Gaza. [Mustafa Hassona - Anadolu Agency].

"Refugee camps contain the hidden victims of Covid-19"

Dr Ramzy Baroud (Middle East Monitor, Dec 31, 2020):

Victims of war, poverty and international neglect prior to the spread of the deadly pandemic, the refugees were forced to contend with yet more hurdles that compounded their protracted, collective agony. While worsening the refugees' existing atrocious conditions - statelessness, malnutrition, lack of healthcare, education and so on - the global lockdowns brought their journeys to a complete halt, stranding them in time and place, and leaving them bereft of hope and, at times, blamed for allegedly spreading the coronavirus. The reality is that refugee camps contain the hidden victims of Covid-19.
It is convenient to argue that a global pandemic which affects the entire population of the world is expected to eclipse what now seems to be a secondary crisis afflicting a far smaller number of people. Not only is this thinking cruel and inhumane - a stricken refugee dying in an enclosed refugee camp with little or no access to proper medication should be treated with great urgency - but it is also dishonest. Indeed, the refugee crisis, which was exacerbated during a decade of political upheaval in the Middle East, has rarely been an international priority.

Illustration by Nerian Keywan.

"No dispossessions left to count"

It is the Palestinian refugee who reminds us, as we reckon with our altered reality, that yearning for what we once knew is hardly an act of obstinacy. It is what sustains us. And for many, the cost of abandoning this self-consolation is just too high.

Samer Badawi (+972, Dec 29, 2020)

The first entry in the UN Relief and Works Agency's online photographic archive shows a Palestinian woman, with her child, standing "next to their tent in a newly formed refugee camp." The image is one of hundreds of thousands dating back to 1948, the year the majority of Palestine's indigenous population became refugees. It depicts a bare, unnamed landscape, interrupted only by two human figures and the cone-shaped canvas that is their shelter. The scene, the photo's title tells us, captures the "first phase" of the Palestinians' dispossession.
That was 72 years ago. Now there are no phases left to count. For Palestinian refugees and their descendants, what began as makeshift shelters eventually evolved into a patchwork of nearly 60 "camps" spread throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as in neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Continue...

Head of Section, Macroeconomic Support, Social Development and Institution Building Odoardo Como (left), Deputy Head of EU Delegation Maria Velasco (middle) and Acting Director for Partnerships Marc Lassouaoui (right) signed an additional contribution agreement for UNRWA ©2020 UNRWA Photo.

"The European Union Contributes an Additional EUR 4.6 Million in Support of Palestine Refugees"

The European Union (EU) has signed an additional contribution of EUR 4.6 million to the 2020 Programme Budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to help address the needs of Palestine refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic through its health and relief programmes.  Continue...

"This winter, Palestine refugees need your support more than ever!"

UNRWA has run out of money to pay our dedicated staff - most of whom are Palestine refugees themselves. For three years we have slashed, saved, and squeezed every penny we've received. Now, the Agency has nothing left to cut. Without UNRWA, frontline doctors, nurses and sanitation workers will not be able to feed their families. Children will not have access to education. Families will not be able to put food on the table. Grandparents, mothers, fathers and children will not be able to access health care and critical medications. #PalestineRefugeesAtRisk must not be forgotten. They must not be left behind: donate today!

Ali Abunimah, "Will UAE back Israeli plan to destroy UNRWA?" (The Electronic Intifada, 28 Dec, 2020):

The United Arab Emirates may be backing an Israeli plan to close UNRWA, the UN agency that meets the health, education and other basic needs of millions of Palestinian refugees. Emirati officials are considering "a plan of action aimed at making UNRWA progressively disappear, without conditioning this on any resolution of the problem of the refugees," France's Le Monde newspaper reported last week. This would help Israel achieve its longstanding goal of liquidating the rights of Palestinian refugees altogetherIsrael hopes that by destroying UNRWA, it can further reduce the visibility of Palestinian refugees on the international agenda and is no doubt recruiting Arab allies to its cause. Continue...

Resources : Books, Documents, Reports...

"Israel's isolation of Palestinian Child Detainees
amounts to Torture"

Asa Winstanley (MEMo via Informed Comment, Dec 17):

A new report by Defense for Children International - Palestine provides detailed new evidence in exhaustive detail. The report concludes "overwhelmingly" that Israel's practice of isolating Palestinian child detainees "amounts to torture under international law."
The 73-page report evaluates and details the patterns of arrest, detention conditions and interrogation practices used by the Israeli authorities. This is child abuse sanctioned by the Israeli government, not an aberration, or a case of a few bad apples. This is standard Israeli practice towards Palestinian children. Torturing children is normal for Israel. Continue...

# Report: "Isolated and Alone: Palestinian children held in solitary confinement by Israeli authorities for interrogation"

Defense for Children International - Palestine, Dec 2, 2020, pdf, 75p.
pp. 18-73: Annex: Case Summaries.

# Al-Haq Report: "Deprived A Voice: An Investigation into Shrinking Space in Area C" 

(IMEMC 14 Dec 2020): 

Today, 14 Dec 2020, Al-Haq launches a new report "DEPRIVED A VOICE: An Investigation into Shrinking Space in Area C" which examines the daily harassment of human rights defenders by the Israeli Occupying Force (IOF) and Israeli settlers illegally transferred in to colonize the West Bank, in the area classified under the Oslo Accords as Area C. In doing so, the report examines how human rights defenders, including human rights field workers, journalists, medical personnel and volunteers, are targeted and silenced in Area C, in an attempt by Israel to shrink Palestinian space for critical human rights work.

Report (pdf, 27p.): click here!

"Highway to Annexation: Israeli Road and Transportation Infrastructure Development in the West Bank"

The Israeli Centre for Public Affairs & Breaking the Silence
(Report, Dec 2020, pdf, 39p.)

While the threat of de jure Israeli annexation of West Bank territory has lessened, de facto annexation is accelerating at a rapid and alarming pace. The Israeli political Right has stated that it hopes to grow the population to 1,000,000 settlers. Even if such a number is not reached, the significant road and transportation development projects that the Israeli government has advanced in the past five years make it plausible that the current settler population could double in the coming decades. Settlement expansion cannot take place without the parallel development of road, water, and electricity infrastructure. Because of this, when tracking settlement expansion, it is important to track not only the number of new housing units, which is the most common benchmark used today, but also the development of settlement infrastructure. Continue...

"YouTube's Violation of Palestinian Digital Rights:
What Needs to be Done"

Amal Nazzal  (Al-Shabaka, Dec 27):

Palestinians are increasingly reporting that their digital rights are being violated by social media platforms, including YouTube. Al-Shabaka policy analyst, Amal Nazzal, examines YouTube's problematic community guidelines and policies, and how they are used to discriminate against Palestinian users' content. She offers recommendations for protecting the digital rights of Palestinian activists, journalists, and human rights defenders. This brief draws on research conducted by 7amleh - The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, to examine YouTube's policy and community guidelines, its social media content moderation, and its violation of Palestinian digital rights through hyper-surveillance. Continue...