Wednesday, September 27, 2023

In the West Bank, Israeli settlers raided Umm Safa, throwing stones at Palestinian farmers working their land. Israeli settlers also blocked Route 60 between Jerusalem and Ramallah, burning tires in protest over an Israeli demolition of a settlement outpost nearby. Israeli forces issued 12 stop work notices for 1 soccer field and 11 shacks in Masha and demolished an irrigation system under construction in Artas. Israeli forces also razed some 50 dunams (12.35 acres) of Palestinian land near Bruqin to expand the Brukhin settlement. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinians celebrating Mawlid, the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad, assaulting people gathered at the Damascus Gate Plaza. In Gaza, Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinian protesters near the Gaza fence, injuring 1 with live ammunition and others with tear gas east of Khuza’a. Israel claimed that Palestinians launched incendiary balloons at Israel. (QDS, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 9/27; HA 9/28; PCHR 10/5)

PA prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh met with Saudi non-resident ambassador to Palestine and consul general in Jerusalem Nayef al-Sudairi in Ramallah. It was al-Sudairi’s third day of meetings with Palestinian officials in the West Bank. Al-Sudairi also canceled a visit to the Haram al-Sharif compound on the occasion of Mawlid, reportedly after social media calls to prevent the visit in protest over the Saudi-Israeli normalization plans and due to the visit not being coordinated with the Jordanian-run Waqf, making the security a matter for the Israeli police. (HA, HA, MEE, NYT, QDS, WAFA 9/27)

UN envoy for the Middle East peace process Tor Wennesland said after visiting Gaza that the situation was dire and that all parties must avoid another conflict, saying that “the people of Gaza have suffered enough.” Wennesland also briefed the UN Security Council, saying that Israel has advanced more than 10,000 settlement housing units in the last 3 months, calling on Israel to cease settlement activity immediately and calling on member states to up funding for UNRWA and the World Food Programme, which both need funding for food assistance in Gaza and the West Bank. (REU, UN, WAFA 9/27; HA, HA 9/28)

The U.S. admitted Israel into its Visa Waiver Program, allowing Israelis to enter the U.S. for 90 days without obtaining a visa. Democratic senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeff Merkey (D-OR), and Peter Welch (D-VT) criticized the move, saying Israel has failed to meet the reciprocity requirements as not all U.S. citizens are treated equally by Israel, referring to Palestinian Americans who do not enjoy the same freedom of movement in Israel and Israeli-controlled crossings in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as other Americans do. Palestinian American member of the House Rashida Tlaib also criticized the decision, saying “it explicitly condones and enables the Israeli government’s discriminatory practices towards Americans requesting entry, including hours of detainment and interrogation.” U.S. embassy to Israel chargé d’affaires ad interim Stephanie Hallett said the embassy had established a working group to solve the issue of Palestinian Americans not being able to drive from the West Bank to Israel. (AX 9/26; AJ, ALM, AP, AX, CNN, HA, HA, HA, MEE, NYT, REU 9/27; AJ, AJ, HA 9/28; WAFA 9/29)

The Lebanese army said it had exchanged smoke grenades with Israeli forces while working to remove “infringements” placed by Israeli forces on the Lebanese side of the Blue Line. A similar incident occurred on 9/23. (HA 9/27)