Sunday, July 18, 2021

In the West Bank, Israeli forces closed off large parts of Hebron to Palestinians, including forcing Palestinians to close their shops in the Bab al-Zawyeh area to allow Israeli settlers to tour it. Israeli forces also seized an excavator in Burin. 7 Palestinians were arrested, including 5 during late-night raids in and around Bethlehem, Burqin, and Deir Ghasana, 1 was arrested at a checkpoint near al-Khader, and 1 was arrested at the entrance to Zabbuba. In East Jerusalem, nearly 1,700 Israeli settlers toured the Haram al-Sharif compound on the Jewish holiday Tisha B’Av, drawing criticism from the Israeli governing party the United Arab List, the PA, Hamas, the EU, and Jordan. Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinian protesters on and around the Haram al-Sharif compound who were expressing anger over the settler incursion, causing injuries and 5 arrests. (AJ, AP, HA, HA, MEMO, MEMO, REU, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 7/18; MEMO, MEMO 7/19; PCHR 7/29)

The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt was open for 1 day. (MEMO, WAFA 7/19)

In a statement after the Israeli settlers had toured the Haram al-Sharif compound, Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett said the Israeli security forces had preserved “freedom of worship for Jews on the Mound [the Haram al-Sharif compound],” a significant departure from the status quo of the Holy Sites and a 1st from an Israeli prime minister. Under the status quo agreement, only Muslims have the right to worship on the Haram al-Sharif compound. 1 day later, Prime Minister Bennett clarified that the wording was a mistake and that he meant “visit” rather than “worship.” (HA, MEMO 7/18; AP, HA, JP, WAFA 7/19)

The Israeli high court of justice rejected a petition from Peace Now to stop the transfer of Israeli public funds to the Amana movement, which funds and builds unauthorized constructions in Israeli settlements and settlement outposts. (HA 7/19)

Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid said that the Israeli government would examine the diplomatic ramifications of the demolition and eviction of the bedouin community Khan al-Ahmar. (HA 7/18; MEMO 7/19)

The PFLP-GC said it had elected a new leader, Talal Naji, to replace Ahmed Jibril who died on 7/7 after months of sickness. (AP, HA 7/18)

17 news outlets published a Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International investigation based on a leak of more than 50,000 records of phone numbers, which had been targeted for surveillance with Pegasus spyware from the Israeli spyware company NSO Group’s clients. The investigation found that at least 180 journalists from 21 countries had been targeted by 12 NSO Group clients, including the governments of Bahrain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, India, the UAE, Mexico, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Togo, and Rwanda. The investigation also found that heads of governments, including Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan, France’s president Emmanuel Macron, and Morocco’s king Mohammed VI, were among possible victims. Furthermore, the investigation showed that Pegasus spyware was installed on Saudi dissent journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée’s phone and that his son had been listed for targeting before Khashoggi was murdered by special forces in Saudi’s embassy in Istanbul on 10/2/2018. Charges against NSO Group that its spyware was used against Khashoggi have been denied by the company. The Israeli government approves all sales of spyware from NSO Group to potential clients. Amazon subsequently said it had shut down its servers used by NSO Group. The investigation comes as a different investigation into another Israeli spyware company Candiru was released on 7/15. Later, after the Forbidden Stories investigation was published and with international criticism mounting, the Knesset’s foreign affairs and defense committee chairman Ram Ben Barak on 7/22 said that his committee would review the process of granting licenses to export spyware to other countries. France and Luxembourg said they would start investigations into the Israeli-made spyware. (NYT 7/17; AI, AJ, F24, GDN, HA, HA, HA, HA, MEE, NYT 7/18; AJ, ALM, AP, GDN, MEE, MEE, MEMO, MEMO, NPR, REU, REU 7/19; AJ, ALM, AP, AP, HA, HA, HA, MEE, REU 7/20; AJ, AP, HA, HA, MEE, MEE, MEE, MEMO, MEMO, MEMO, REU, REU, REU 7/21; AJ, ALM, BBC, HA, HA, HA, HA, MEE, MEE 7/22; HA, MEE, MEE 7/23; CNN, HILL 7/25)