Wednesday, February 2, 2022

In the West Bank, Israeli settlers with military escort raided Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, leading to a confrontation with Palestinians protesting the incursion; no injuries were reported. Israeli settlers also attacked Palestinian farmers with pepper spray east of Hebron. Israeli forces delivered stop-work orders for 1 mosque, 3 houses, and 1 commercial structure in Marda. Israeli forces also forced Palestinian business owners to close their shops in Huwwara, claiming that stones had been thrown at Israeli settlers near the shops. Elsewhere, Israeli forces demolished 4 water wells in Khallet al-Dabe. Israeli forces also demolished 1 commercial structure in ‘Anata. Israeli military said that shots were fired from a car at Israeli soldiers near Nablus; no injuries were reported. 13 Palestinians were arrested, including 10 during late-night raids in Dahariya, Za‘atra, Silwad, and Zeita; 3 were arrested at checkpoints near Bethlehem and Nablus. (TOI, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 2/2; MEMO, MEMO, PCHR 2/3)

Haaretz reported that Israeli attorney general Avichai Mendelblit authorized establishing an Israeli settlement on the evacuated Evyatar settlement outpost near Beita. Attorney General Mendelblit is leaving office this week. Palestinians have held weekly protests at the site since the outpost was erected in May 2021. The outpost was evacuated in June 2021, but the houses erected remained as the settlers struck a deal with the Israeli government that they could move back if Israel deemed that the land is state-owned. Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz will have to declare the area state-owned, after which there will be a 45-day period to file objections. Several Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the past year while protesting the outpost. In a letter from Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid to Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett, Lapid warned that if the Israeli government legalized the Evyatar settlement outpost, it “could have serious diplomatic consequences and damage foreign relations, first and foremost from the United States,” saying that the U.S. has already made this clear to him. Labor and Meretz publicly opposed legalizing the settlement outpost. (AP, HA, IN 2/2; HA, JP, MEE, TOI, TOI, TOI 2/3; HA, HA, HA 2/4; UNOCHA 2/11)

The Shin Bet admitted to having threatened random Palestinians in Israel that it would “settle the score” if they had participated in protests related to the May 2021 uprising in Israel that coincided with Israeli attacks on Gaza and eviction threats against Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. (HA, MEE 2/3)

PA president Mahmoud Abbas met with Amnesty International’s secretary-general Agnès Callamard in Ramallah, discussing the report Amnesty released on 2/1 that charged Israel with the crime of apartheid. (WAFA 2/2)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, at a conference in Tel Aviv, that the Israeli military on 4 occasions had offered assistance to Lebanon. According to Gantz, the offers were made to strengthen the Lebanese army in facing “the strengthening of Hezbollah under Iran’s support.” Israeli military sources later denied that Israel had made such offers and that Israel had only offered humanitarian aid following the explosion in the Beirut port. (HA 2/2; MEMO 2/3)

Israel, Oman, and Saudi Arabia all took part in the International Maritime Exercise 2022, led by the U.S. and with the participation of nearly 60 countries. It was the 1st time that Saudi Arabia and Oman partook in a naval exercise with Israel, which they have no formal relations with. (AJ, ALM 2/2)

The FBI confirmed reporting from the New York Times published on 1/28 that the agency had bought the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, but claimed to never have used it. The FBI further stated that it had bought the spyware for “product testing and evaluation.” (ALM, AP, HA, REU 2/2; MEMO 2/3)