[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Palestine and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Palestine Page co-editors or of Jadaliyya.]
The Occupation Forces
Yousif Shaheen went to harvest his eggplant crops early on 13 October. His farm – near the city of Khan Younis – is located a few hundred meters from the fence separating Gaza and Israel. Suddenly, the farmers noticed that Israeli soldiers were driving three bulldozers toward them. “We shouted at the bulldozers,” Shaheen said. “But they did not stop.” The Israeli troops bulldozed about 2.5 acres of Shaheen’s land. His entire crop of eggplants and his irrigation systems were destroyed. Shaheen believes that the Israeli troops planned the attack so that it would cause major harm to farmers’ livelihoods. “They waited until the eggplants were ready to be harvested,” he said. “I was heartbroken seeing my land and my crops obliterated.” At least 10 farmers incurred substantial losses because of the attack. The estimated total cost of the damage was approximately $32,000.
On Sunday, the health ministry in Gaza announced that it had halted testing for COVID-19 after running out of supplies. Additional testing kits were delivered by the World Health Organization the next day, staving off a full-blown emergency – for the time being. The interruption in testing came as one-third of COVID-19 test results in Gaza were coming back positive – a very high rate that likely indicates that not enough testing is being done in the first place. Of those confirmed cases, 20 percent were serious or critical. More than 150 people in Gaza have died from the coronavirus so far. Like every other sector in Gaza, the healthcare system has deteriorated after more than 13 years of siege and repeated brutal Israeli military offensives. Gaza’s medical centers were still reeling from an epidemic of catastrophic injuries caused by Israel’s use of live fire against civilian protesters when the pandemic hit.
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Tuesday demolished at least three homes and displaced 35 residents, in a Bedouin community in Al-Auja town, north of Jericho. The mayor of Al-Auja, Salah Freijat, told “Wafa” that large forces of the occupation army, accompanied by bulldozers, stormed the community and proceeded to demolish three homes owned by citizens: Hani and his son, Ata Traifat, housing 25 people, in addition to the home of Suleiman Dawood Tarifat, home to 10 people.
Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian child near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday evening, the local health ministry said. The boy has been identified as Ali Abu Aalya, and reported to be between 13 and 15 years old. The teen was killed during clashes that broke out between Palestinian residents and Israeli soldiers in his village of al-Mughayir, northeast of Ramallah, the ministry said. Israeli policeman who killed autistic Palestinian charged with reckless homicide Read More » The Palestinian Red Cross told Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Israeli forces shot Abu Aalya in the stomach. He was then rushed to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds. Clashes broke out in the village on Friday after Israeli forces responded to a protest held by local residents against a new settlement outpost in the area. Haaretz reported that the demonstration had taken place "far from the outpost".
As in many other cases when occupation forces killed a Palestinian child, the Israeli military lied about what happened. The army denied using live fire during the Friday protests, according to Tel Aviv daily Haaretz. The military spokesperson insisted that soldiers used rubber-coated steel bullets and US-made Ruger rifles. But Israel’s claim that Ruger rifles do not fire live ammunition is an outright lie. These guns fire live bullets, albeit smaller 22-caliber rounds. They are nonetheless lethal.
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is a reminder that the rights of children should be paramount in our minds. It was passed by the United Nations in 1977, occurring annually on November 29. As of September 2020, there are 157 Palestinian children detained as security detainees by Israeli authorities, of whom 95 have not been sentenced and two more held in administrative detention or arrest without charge. “Each year approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years old, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system,” reports Defense for Children International – Palestine. “The most common charge is stone throwing.” The organization estimates over the last 20 years around 10,000 Palestinian children from the West Bank have been detained by Israeli forces. Based on interviews with hundreds of children, DCI – Palestine found 73 percent said they “experienced physical violence following arrest,” 95 percent said their hands were tied, and 86 percent said they were blindfolded.
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms has monitored a total of 34 violations against media freedoms in Palestine in November, with a slight decrease in the total number of violations compared to October, during which 38 violations were documented. The Israeli Occupation committed the vast majority of the total violations during the past month, 22 violations out of a total of 34 violations, while various Palestinian authorities committed 5 violations, and Facebook Company committed 7 violations, represented by blocking and closing the accounts of journalists and media sites.
Health officials in Gaza say they are days away from running out of hospital beds, sounding the alarm as coronavirus cases continued to radically spike over the last week, sending younger patients to critical care wards for the first time. Less than three months ago there were under 100 total confirmed cases in Gaza. Today there are over 10,000 active cases, and the positivity rate is over 30%, making Gaza home to the second highest positivity rate in the world, outpaced by only Bolivia. With Gaza’s scant resources, only 3,000 tests are run each day, and tests are only available to Palestinians who are already quarantined either in an isolation facility for returning travelers, or for symptomatic patients in treating hospitals. “Any day now, we will no longer be able to receive critical cases,” head of the European Hospital, Dr. Yousef al-Aqqad, said. He runs the only dedicated facility for critical cases in Gaza. In total around 2,000 COVID-19 patients are being treated between his hospital and one more, or in isolation facilities including schools and hotels.
Ashrawi says she was in touch with Abbas following the media reports of her resignation and agreed to the official disclosure of her letter. She was evidently angered by the leaks which erroneously claimed she was protesting the renewed PA collaboration with the Israeli army. “Regrettably, news of my resignation was leaked from ‘senior sources’ in a misleading and irresponsible manner that led to conjecture and rumors,” she states. Ashrawi says Abbas has deferred a decision on whether to accept her resignation while adding that she herself considers it “to be in effect.” (Update: On Wednesday evening Abbas accepted Ashrawi’s resignation.) Her statement urges “reform” of the PLO and calls for “renewal and reinvigoration” of the Palestinian political system “with the inclusion of youth, women and additional qualified professionals.” Yet it is unclear why Ashrawi chose this moment to resign given that the undemocratic exclusion of the Palestinian people from PLO decision-making has been its defining feature for decades.
The EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah visited Gaza today and met with representatives of Palestinian civil society and the private sector as well as with international organizations. The group of more than twenty European diplomats visited also the European Hospital in Rafah and the EU-funded small-scale desalination plant near Deir Al Balah. This is the first joint visit of EU Heads of Mission to Gaza since 2016. The visit was organized in full respect of the heightened health restrictions of Covid-19 and demonstrates the EU’s support to the people of Gaza who are suffering from Gaza’s closure, intra-Palestinian division, and the severe implications of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On 23 November, UNRWA – the UN agency for Palestine refugees – held an extraordinary meeting of its advisory committee. There, Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s commissioner-general, informed the committee that it faced an unprecedented situation. With a budget deficit of $115 million, Lazzarini said, UNRWA would be unable to pay the full salaries of its 28,000 employees in the fourth quarter of 2020. Thus, and just as a second wave of COVID-19 sweeps across the globe, UNRWA and the Palestinian refugees it serves face an uncertain future. The meeting came less than three weeks after Joe Biden was elected US president. Although UNRWA’s financial crisis is mainly caused by US aid cuts, there is no guarantee that a Biden administration will reverse the policies of the last two years or the even longer period of budget cuts and reduced services that UNRWA has endured.
Al-Akhras’ hunger strike was not the first of its kind — a fact that reflects how persistent the unjust conditions of administrative detainees have been throughout the years, and the dramatic ordeals that Palestinian prisoners must go through in order to change them. In the past, such strikes usually lasted fewer days before Israeli authorities would shift their policy; this time, the authorities refused to budge until the last moment. This goes for international actors, too, who belatedly pay attention to the hunger strikers only when the health of the detainees enters their most critical stages.
Israeli soldiers murdered Ali Abu Alia, a boy of about 14 (reports of his age have varied from 12 to 15), while he was protesting an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank Friday. The killing — on top of hundreds of similar atrocities in recent years — has generated outrage in the west, led by Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Betty McCollum. Jewish Voice for Peace promptly issued the demand that the U.S. cut off all military funding to Israel. Two Jewish organizations have called on the U.S. to investigate the matter because an American arm was used, a Ruger rifle. Both J Street and IfNotNow have demanded a U.S. investigation, with IfNotNow challenging Joe Biden to investigate the murder. “Why has it been three days since Israeli forces killed a Palestinian child and no condemnation from the Biden team?”
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has said Saudi Arabia would only normalise ties with Israel within a plan that would deliver a sovereign state to Palestinians, quashing speculation that the kingdom may soon become the latest Arab country to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel. “What we need to make [normalisation of ties with Israel] happen is a peace deal that delivers a Palestinian state with dignity and with a workable sovereignty that Palestinians can accept,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said on Friday.
Settlers and Illegal Settlements
Even though Palestinian merchants have been suffering from arbitrary fines and compulsory closures of their shops since 1967, Abu Muhammad said the latest escalation is unprecedented. "On 10 November, we were surprised by an attack from forces including cadres from several Israeli institutions, among others: the income tax, intelligence, Israeli police, the Environment Protection Authority, the Consumer Protection Agency, property tax, and VAT," he said. "They took us by surprise and started searching our shops and gave the traders subpoenas for interrogation the following day." Abu Muhammad believes that the pressure on local Palestinian merchants aims to empty out the neighbourhood of its commerce and passersby in order to provide a comfortable setting for a family of Israeli settlers who moved into the area two years ago. He does not deny the fact that some Jerusalemite merchants have failed to pay the appropriate amounts of tax levied on them, while others fail to abide by the rules completely. But he reiterated that the various arms of the Israeli occupation resort to restrictions and exert pressures as a punitive measure with the aim of pushing out Palestinians from the Old City.
The mayor of Salfit, Abdul Karim Zubeidi, told WAFA: “We were surprised by the presence of the bulldozers, supported by the occupation army, in this area without prior notifications or notices of takeover.” He described the area as strategic and central to the city of Salfit with great scenery that overlooks the Nablus, Ramallah and Qalqilya governorates. “The takeover of this land will be among the most dangerous steps because it allows the Israeli occupation authorities to link Ariel settlement with the industrial settlements, forming one continuous block from Kafr Qassim (in Israel) until the beginning of the Jordan Valley, which means bisecting the West Bank in two,” he said. Zubeidi indicated that there is fear of seizing thousands of dunums of land surrounding the area in order to link Ariel settlement to Barkan settlement, one of the largest industrial settlements built on expropriated West Bank lands, which means denying Salfit the chance to expand to the west, just as Ariel denied it the right to expand to the north.
An Israeli settler attempted today on burning down the Gethsemane Church in the Mount of Olives area in occupied East Jerusalem, according to local sources. Witnesses reported that the settler, pretending to be a visitor, sneaked into the premises of the church before he was seen pouring some flammable liquid there. The settler then tried to set some of the wooden pews on fire, but was thwarted by local Palestinian citizens who handed him over to a police force which had just arrived at the scene. The Israeli occupation police provided no details about the attack, but past attacks on churches across historical Palestine have been blamed on hardcore Jewish extremists.
Law & Prisons
Two years ago Israel passed a law defining the country as the “Nation State of the Jewish People,” and now the rubber is meeting the road. Yaniv Luzon, a registrar of the magistrate’s court outside Haifa, dismissed a discrimination suit by the uncle of two Palestinian children living in the town of Karmiel, and cited the Nation Basic Law as permitting discrimination, reported Ha’aretz (Hebrew). The uncle sued the town on behalf of the children, saying that it does not have a school for Arabic-speaking children, and therefore it should reimburse the children for the expenses of sending them to Arabic-speaking schools in neighboring towns. The suit assessed the reimbursement at 25,000 NIS (some $7,200) over several years. In his decision to dismiss the suit, Luzon wrote that “Karmiel, a Jewish town, was founded in order to support the Jewish settlement of the Galilee […] The building of an Arabic-speaking school, as well as funding transportation for Arab students, to anyone and for anywhere, may change the demographic balance and harm the town’s demeanor (at this time, 6% of the town’s population is Arab).” So because it’s a Jewish town, the state has no obligations to meet the needs of its Palestinian minority.
The National Bureau for defending land and resisting settlements ( nbprs ) stated in its latest weekly report , that the Judicial system in Israel is mostly directed by the Israeli political and security figures, especially, the ongoing conflict between the Israeli government and settlers from one side, and the Palestinians and the cases related to them from the other. They also use it to legalize and confiscate more and more of the Palestinian lands, and then transfer them to the favor of settlement activities. Besides, the Israeli Government’s policy that encourages settlers to setting up outposts in many places of the West Bank, the last were the establishment of settlement outpost north of Burin village, and another in Jabal al-Najma, south of Nablus in the Jaloud village.
Back in the day, when the nation-state law was brought before the Knesset, its initiator, Avi Dichter, made the following appeal to Arab citizens: “You will be able to live as a national minority among us and enjoy equal rights as individuals, but not equality as a national minority.” Now, Senior Registrar Luzon clarifies, based on the nation-state law, even “living among us” is not a real option, because maintaining Jewish demographic superiority is an explicit goal of the law itself. That is, even if theoretically the Arab residents of Karmiel were prepared to send their children to the city’s Jewish schools - where they would be exposed to racist, militaristic indoctrination that, among other things, normalises the occupation - that would not be a solution. Their very presence in the city is unwanted, and fighting against it is considered legitimate and lawful.
Two decades ago, the Or Commission sought to depoliticize Palestinian citizens by integrating them into law enforcement and government services. Today, the state is operating with the same political agenda in mind when trying to combat criminal violence. Rather than address injustice at its root by investing in Palestinian communities, demilitarizing society, and ending police violence, Israel is merely attempting to eradicate unlicensed gun crime through the licensed use of violence.
Two Palestinian prisoners from Tulkarem were released today after serving 16 and 18 years in Israeli jails for resisting its occupation. Fayyez Abu Safera, 46, from Tulkarem refugee camp, was released after serving a 16-year sentence behind Israeli bars. Meanwhile, Zaher Ghannem, from Deir al-Ghusun town to the north of Tulkarem, was released after serving 18 years in Israeli jails.
Environment, Economy, and Other
Houriya Muslih is an iconic figure in Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. She has assisted in the births of hundreds of children, many of them in Maghazi. Muslih was born in the village of al-Batani al-Sharqi, northeast of Gaza. In May 1948, the village came under attack from the Givati Brigade, a Zionist paramilitary group that is now a unit of the Israeli army. “We were in our homes when Zionist paramilitary groups attacked us,” Muslih told The Electronic Intifada. Zionist forces ethnically cleansed the Palestinian residents of the village and completely obliterated it. “They gathered young men in our area,” she said, including her father, and shot them in the back of her heads. Muslih’s father was shot in the leg and survived. “Their blood was all over my father. I pulled him out, I wrapped a kuffiyeh around his head and around his foot to stop the bleeding.” No Israeli settlements were built in the place of al-Batani al-Sharqi or its neighboring village, al-Batani al-Gharbi. Muslih, now 85 years old, became a midwife at 25.
A US non-profit organisation aimed at finding a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict said that it will not accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Association's (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, saying that it "weaponises" antisemitism and targets any criticism of Israel. Americans for Peace Now sent a letter to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella body for 51 Jewish groups, saying that when it comes to labelling antisemitism, the conference should use a "scalpel rather than a bulldozer". "While we endorse joint action to confront antisemitism, we strongly believe that the IHRA Working Definition is the wrong vehicle for such action," the letter from APN's CEO Hadar Susskind said.
Beyond racist rhetoric, Israel has demolished tens of thousands of Palestinian homes since its invasive establishment, and will demolish many more. As such, there is nothing complex or ambiguous about this so-called “conflict.” It is clear who the aggressor is — statistically, historically, and materially. And still, Palestinian suffering is trapped under a culture of disposability. We’ve been so demonized and alienated. To combat this vilification, many Palestinians, including myself until recently, chose to take the very problematic route of “proving” our humanity.
Culture & Art
Writers spoke of indigeneity, dispossession, erasure, settler colonialism, oral history, collective memory, the right of return, Palestinian queerness, radical feminism, and the burning need to explore and document all of this in art, film, and writing. To refuse to be invisible or silenced. To write as an act of resistance. We saw this through the drawings of Samia Halaby on the 1956 Kafr Qassem Massacre and the scholarly works of Salman Abu Sitta, deliberately walking us through the horrific details of the 1948 massacre at Burayr.