Thursday, December 16, 2021

In the West Bank, 1 Israeli settler was shot and killed and 2 others wounded when 10 shots were fired at their car at the Homesh settlement outpost near Nablus. Israel’s public security minister Omer Bar-Lev called it “Palestinian terror,” despite not having identified a perpetrator. Israeli settlers threw stones at Palestinian-owned vehicles traveling near Jenin, causing damage. Israeli settlers also made roadblocks and threw stones at Palestinian vehicles in the Hebron area. Elsewhere, Israeli settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles traveling near Huwwara and Nablus. Israeli forces physically assaulted 4 Palestinians, including 1 minor, in Hebron. Israeli forces also demolished 2 houses under construction in Jericho. Elsewhere, Israeli forces confiscated 1 tractor and 1 digger in Masafer Yatta. Israeli forces also violently dispersed Palestinian protesters during a raid in al-Arroub refugee camp, injuring 2 minors with rubber-coated bullets and others with tear gas. 6 Palestinians were arrested during late-night raids in Silat al-Harithiya, Madama, Jericho, Beit Fajjar, and Hebron. (AP, HA, MEE, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 12/16; AJ, HA, REU, REU, WAFA, WAFA 12/17; PCHR 12/23)

The PA health ministry said that it had identified 3 cases of the highly infectious strain of the COVID-19 virus, the Omicron variant. The 3 were said to have returned to the West Bank from abroad before testing positive. 1 of 3 Palestinians in the West Bank are fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, and less than 140,000 have received a booster shot. (AP, HA, REU, WAFA 12/16)

Israel indicted a Palestinian taxi driver for having driven a Palestinian man from Qalqilya to the Damascus Gate plaza, before the man allegedly stabbed an Israeli and was subsequently executed by Israeli forces. The taxi driver is charged with negligence for not realizing that the man would commit an act of violence. (HA 12/16)

2 Palestinian men—1 a resident of Jaffa and 1 from Gaza—were charged with spying on behalf of Hamas by gathering information about the Iron Dome system and taking photos of Israeli soldiers in Ashkelon. (HA, MEMO 12/16)

In Syria, the Syrian military said Israeli missiles fired from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights had killed 1 Syrian soldier and caused damage in the south of the country. The Syrian military said its air defense system had intercepted most of the Israeli missiles. (AP 12/15; REU 12/16)

Israel’s environmental protection ministry said it had blocked a plan to allow oil tankers unloading crude oil from the UAE in the port of Eilat, which had been negotiated as part of the 2 countries’ normalization agreement. The plan would have seen the crude oil transferred from Eilat to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. (REU 12/16)

The Times of Israel reported that the U.S. had shelved its plans to reopen a consulate to Palestinians in Jerusalem. ToI also said the Palestinian affairs unit at the U.S. embassy to Israel had begun reporting directly to the U.S. state department, rather than reporting to the U.S. ambassador to Israel, as had been the case since the Trump administration merged the consulate in Jerusalem with the U.S. embassy as part of its move from Tel Aviv. (TOI 12/15; MEMO 12/16; ALM 12/20)

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee announced it is launching 2 political action committees, which will allow the lobby organization to spend unlimited funds on political campaigns in the U.S. without having to report its spending to the U.S. government. (HA 12/17)

Meta Platforms Inc., the owner of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, announced that it had suspended some 1,500 fake accounts used to spy on people. The accounts are linked to 6 companies, including the Israeli companies Black Cube, Cognyte, Cobwebs Technologies, and Bluehawk CI. The 6 companies were said to have been targeting some 50,000 people. (HA 12/16; AJ 12/17; HA 12/21)

AP reported that the state of Oregon was exploring ways to divest $233 million of its employee retirement fund from Novalpina Capital, which owns a majority share in the Israeli spyware company NSO Group. NSO Group was blacklisted by the U.S. government in November for assisting in human rights abuses. The Oregon decision follows criticism from Oregon senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has been vocal about U.S. sanctions on NSO Group for abuses related to its Pegasus spyware. (AP 12/15; AP 12/17)

Ukrainian ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said that Ukraine recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel during a speech at an event marking 30 years of relations between the 2 countries. Ambassador Korniychuk also said that he is seeking to open a branch of the Ukrainian embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. Israeli media speculated that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will open the embassy branch during a scheduled visit to Israel in 2022. (ALM, HA 12/17)