Israel has outdone itself in 2021 – destroying large swaths of Gaza, shooting to kill Palestinian protesters, endangering Palestinian children, and more. Here is a rundown of the year’s violence – with hopes that together, we can work to bring justice and peace in 2022.
by Kathryn Shihadah
2021 has been quite a year for all of us, marked for many by several significant events.
If Americans Knew has posted or reposted roughly 300 articles so far in 2021, covering the situation in Israel-Palestine and news relevant to the region. Some of the major events included Israel’s attack on Gaza and aggressions in Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrah, Israel’s designation of Palestinian human rights organizations as terrorist entities, and two recognized human rights groups’ recognition of Israel as an apartheid state.
No one knows better than Palestinians themselves that, in between these major stories, Israeli oppression has been ongoing and crushing.
Headlines and data don’t paint a picture of the lives lost, childhood ruined, homes decimated, and dreams deferred – but perhaps, by surveying this year’s news, we can get just a hint of the magnitude of Palestinian suffering and tenacity.
Let’s not forget that behind each statistic and headline is a family that has lived through several generations of grave injustice.
ISRAEL’S ATTACK ON GAZA, MAY 2021
At least 279 Palestinians (77 children) and 12 Israelis* have been killed by someone from the other side in 2021.
The vast majority of the losses on both sides happened during Israel’s attack on Gaza in May: 260 Palestinians and 7 Israelis* were killed (66 Palestinian children, 2 Israeli children). One Israeli paper reported that Israel’s military dropped 80 tons of explosives in one 40-minute campaign.
An estimated 2,400 Palestinian homes and 5 Israeli homes were destroyed; 120,000 Gazans were displaced due to the attack; an estimated 50 Israelis were displaced.
Here are some If Americans Knew headlines on the situation:
- Israel-Gaza Violence May 2021 – with timeline
- Human Rights Watch: apparent war crimes by Israel during May attack on Gaza
- Israel kills children, doctors in horrific nighttime massacre
- Israel Knowingly Bombed AP Office in Gaza
- WATCH: Gaza’s Children: Innocence Lost
* besides the 7 Israelis listed on IAK’s Israel-Palestine Timeline who were killed by Gazan rockets, another 3 died as a result of falling on their way to take shelter; 3 non-Israeli foreign workers were also killed.
ISRAEL’S AGGRESSION IN EAST JERUSALEM AND SHEIKH JARRAH, SPRING 2021
Israeli forces killed about 28 Palestinians (4 children) amid escalating settler and military violence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (mid-April to mid-May). Palestinians were shot or attacked while praying, protesting, driving, and walking in Palestinian East Jerusalem, the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and even inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque. 2 Israelis were also killed. Over 6,800 Palestinians were injured and 3,100 were arrested.
A few articles from IAK covering this period:
- Mass arrests of Palestinians in Israel’s Operation Law & Order is “a war declaration”
- Israel police storm al Aqsa Mosque following Gaza ceasefire
- Monday: Israeli military aggression in Jerusalem continues, medics denied access
- Israeli Settlers and Soldiers Wound 105 Palestinian Civilians in Jerusalem
- Israel-Gaza Violence May 2021 – with timeline
ISRAEL’S WAR ON PALESTINIAN PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
There are currently over 4,500 Palestinian political prisoners (including children) and 500 administrative detainees (including children) in Israeli prisons (this fact alone violates multiple international laws). Israeli prisons are notoriously harsh, and Palestinian prisoners (including children) are routinely subject to torture.
Since 1967, Israel has imprisoned more than 700,000 Palestinians from the occupied territories (West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem).
In 2021, Palestinian prisoners experienced great suffering; several conducted high-profile hunger strikes, holding on for months before Israel finally acquiesced to their modest demands (some are still striking at this moment).
If Americans Knew reported:
- When will Israel stop torturing Palestinian prisoners?
- Why were these Palestinian prisoners willing to die of starvation?
- Israel’s negligence killed Sami Al-Amour
- Israel-Palestine: To end torture, Shin Bet interrogations must be filmed
- Israeli Prison Service accused of beating Palestinian who died in detention
- Torture of Palestinian prisoners: Time to end Israel’s impunity
ISRAEL’S WAR ON CHILDREN
In addition to the 77 Gazan children who died at Israel’s hands in 2021, at least 17 more Palestinian youths were killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In many cases, they were shot in the head. This tragedy is unspeakable, of course – but we must speak about it if we expect to make Israel stop this bloodshed.
On a smaller scale, but more widespread, are the daily indignities that Palestinian children must endure, simply because Israel is allowed to get away with it.
Here are just some of the headlines IAK posted this year, calling attention to the slaughter and abuse of Palestine’s innocents:
- Israel makes childhood in Gaza a living hell
- The Stolen Childhood of Palestinian Kids
- Daily assault on Palestinian childhood – attacks, bombings, abductions, shootings
- Israeli soldiers illegally photograph Palestinian children in middle of night
- Israeli bulldozers demolish Palestinian kindergarten
- Three Palestinians killed in past week, 2 of them children shot in the head
- Israel kills Palestinian kids, then kills funeral attendee, then ransacks Defense of Children office
- Israeli forces shoot dead 16-year-old Palestinian boy
- Mohammad Nidal Younis: 17th Palestinian youth killed by Israel in WB in 2021
- Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinian teen, bleeds to death
- Caught on video: Israeli forces shot Palestinian boy, 14, in the eye
- Israeli troops shoot at, beat 2 Palestinian boys, detain them for 29 hours
- Israel detains, interrogates four Palestinian children, ages 9-10
- Israeli interrogator sexually assaults Palestinian child detainee
- Biking while Palestinian: Israeli police run over child for flying Palestinian flag on his bicycle
- Israel Police Prevented Palestinian Detainee from Breastfeeding Her Baby
- WATCH! Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces: The human dimension
ISRAEL’S (GLOBAL) WAR ON PRIVACY
It’s no secret that Israel is a world leader in spyware – which has been used worldwide against people advocating for democracy. Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was targeted using software developed in Israel.
It remains to be seen whether Israel will be held accountable for this, like its other wrongdoings, by justice-loving people and nations.
IAK told you about the issue in these and other articles:
- Guardian, NYT, WaPo report: Israeli spyware is getting Israel in hot water
- WATCH: Israel Uses Military Tech Industry to Spy on Americans
- Israel’s Pegasus spyware: Tested in Palestine, sold to the world
- Israeli Firm Helped Governments Target Journalists, Activists with 0-Days and Spyware
ISRAEL’S WAR ON PALESTINIANS VIA SETTLER VIOLENCE
2021 saw a major spike in Israeli settler violence against Palestinians. In many cases, Israeli forces either stood by or even assisted the settlers in their attacks. But while multiple organizations have reported on this disturbing trend, the Israeli government has not felt the need to do anything about it.
It is generally accepted that settler violence is an integral, if informal, component of Israel’s effort to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from parts of the occupied territories.
Here are a few 2021 posts from If Americans Knew about settler violence:
- Israel, Washington Post teach Americans: Palestinian lives don’t matter
- “Unprecedented escalation” in Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians
- 450 incidents of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians in two years: B’Tselem
- Settler violence: a rampage by Israel’s own homegrown supremacists
- A Palestinian photographs a trespassing Israeli settler, gets his skull fractured
- Shackled, Beaten, Strung Up on a Tree: Palestinian Teen Brutally Attacked by Settlers
- One Palestinian Killed, Two Injured, After Being Rammed By an Israeli Settler’s Car
- Israeli Settlers Severely Beat 78-Year-Old Palestinian Man
ISRAEL’S WAR ON PALESTINIAN HEALTH
Palestinians living in Gaza have struggled constantly to get medical care for 14 years. Israel has blocked the entrance of medicines, medical supplies, and equipment. This is bad news all the time, but during Israeli attacks, these shortages are particularly catastrophic – and even magnified as Israeli bombs destroy hospitals and clinics and kill doctors.
Palestinians living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have their own set of Israeli-imposed health issues.
Just a few of the stories that IAK shared this year:
- Video: Israel poisons Gaza’s water, refuses access to UN mitigation team
- Israel’s use of skunk water is damaging Palestinian health and economy
- Palestinians call Israel’s breast cancer awareness sentiment “hypocritical”
- Israel denies treatment to Palestinians with brain tumors
- Israel’s ongoing “Water War” against Palestinians
- Israel’s obscene mismanagement of the Covid-19 vaccine
ISRAEL’S WAR ON HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS, ACTIVISTS, AND JOURNALISTS
Recent weeks have seen a targeted attack by Israel against Palestinian human rights organizations: PM Bennett accused 6 well-known orgs have having ties to terrorism – a tactic that Israel has used for years to demonize and delegitimize groups that report on things Israel would rather keep secret.
Israel has also been harassing or imprisoning individual activists and journalists.
Some examples from IAK in 2021:
- As Israel demonizes Palestinian human rights orgs, Palestinians may lose aid lifeline
- Israel’s FBI gives human rights researcher a “warning”
- BREAKING: “Palestinian Gandhi” Issa Amro convicted in Israel
- The bizarre case of Mohammad El-Halabi displays Israeli “justice”
- Unwilling and Unable: Israel’s Whitewashed Investigations of the Great March of Return Protests
- Israeli Soldiers Arrest Seven Journalists Covering Peaceful West Bank Protest
- Israel aims to silence Palestinian journalists
- Israeli settlers, military disrupt Palestine TV filming settlement activities in West Bank
ISRAEL’S “SHOOT FIRST” POLICY
Not only do Israel’s military and police use lethal force as a first resort, they also have the admiration and support of their government in doing so.
Here are some of the too-many stories you heard here in 2021:
- Israel applauded the “extrajudicial execution” of Mohammad Salima
- Israeli military kill Jamil al-Kayyal with bullet to the head
- Israeli soldier kills Jamil Abu ‘Ayyash in “excessive use of force”
- ‘They Choose One Person to Kill, and Then the Protest Is Over’
- Israeli troops kill Palestinian teen in West Bank peaceful protest
- Israeli troops shoot dead young Palestinian mother
- Undercover Israeli Soldiers Kill A Palestinian, Bleeds to Death
- Israeli forces kill 5 Palestinians in 5 days in West Bank – one a teenager
- Yet another Palestinian protester killed as Israel steals his land
- Israeli forces shoot dead another Palestinian demonstrator
- Israeli checkpoint killing of Palestinian Ahmad Erekat was an execution, report claims
- Israeli soldiers cheer after shooting Palestinian man
CORPORATE AMERICA, MAINSTREAM, AND SOCIAL MEDIA SIDE WITH ISRAEL
Not always, but all too often, Israel partisans pull strings and manage to perpetuate Israel’s innocence myth in various arenas. (IAK has reported for years about mainstream media’s pro-Israel bias – see this and this and this, for example).
Here are a handful of the many stories If Americans Knew has shared with you this year on this issue:
- Amazon and Google: partners in Israeli apartheid
- New Politico Owner Says Will Enforce pro-Israel Policy
- HRW: Facebook, Instagram restrictions facilitate Israel’s abuses of Palestinians
- AP ignores Israel’s brutality in its Morning Wire
- Rachel Maddow has not done a segment on Gaza in 7 years
- Sheikh Jarrah: How the US media is erasing Israel’s crimes
- Associated Press misreports news about Gaza rocket into Israel
- The Washington Post Redacted Facts About Israel’s Destruction of COVID-19 Clinics
- How the Media Cracks Down on Critics of Israel
- Media bias: CNN and NPR are afraid to say “Apartheid” out loud
US GOVERNMENT’S WAR ON JUSTICE AND PEACE FOR PALESTINIANS
It’s bad enough to know Palestinians are enduring all this oppression from Israel – but the horror reaches a whole new level when we remember that our government is bankrolling these atrocities – over $10 million every day. Our Congress members are actively supporting this regime using our tax dollars. (And we typically expend an additional $10 million per day on projects because they benefit Israel.)
Here are just a few of the many ways our government have been perpetuating Israeli human rights abuses this year:
- Congress has introduced over 70 pieces of Israel-centric legislation so far in 2021
- Israel to get another billion dollars – Time for an Iron Dome for Palestinians
- Sen. Marco Rubio equates boycott of Israel with “un-American activity”
- New GOP bill would keep illegal settlement products labeled ‘Made in Israel’
- WATCH: 30-second video about $20 mill per day on behalf of Israel
- Israel on the defensive: Congress members demonstrate their true allegiance
- WATCH: Joe Biden, career defender of Israel’s crimes and impunity
- U.S. pro-Israel policy has perpetuated the crisis and atrocities in Gaza
- A history of the US blocking UN resolutions against Israel
- Why AOC panders to the Israel lobby
- Top Biden cybersecurity aide Anne Neuberger donated over $500,000 to AIPAC as an NSA Official
ISRAEL LOBBY’S AND ISRAEL PARTISANS’ EFFORTS TO KEEP ISRAEL HAPPY
Israel couldn’t get away with murder like it does, without the help of its great team of devotees. They don’t just solicit money – they influence foreign policy, trample on Americans’ right to free speech, and dictate politicians’ responses to Palestinian suffering. How do they do it? Simple: nobody is holding them accountable.
A few of the many achievements by friends of apartheid Israel:
- At Risk in Israel’s Backlash Against Ben and Jerry’s? The Right to Protest.
- ‘Israel’s Lawyer’ et al promote US militarism, anti-Iran policies
- Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism ignores Palestinian rights, narrative
- Rally ‘against antisemitism’ held to support Israel’s actions against Gaza
- To distract from Gaza slaughter, Israel lobby manufactures antisemitism freakout
- Netanyahu & Israel lobby tell Biden what to do, as Gaza bleeds
- Lobby for foreign government continues to bully state legislatures
- Pro-Israel students pressure Butler U to cancel an event featuring Angela Davis
- 53 Jewish groups lobby Biden to adopt Israel-centric definition of antisemitism
MISCELLANEOUS INJUSTICES THAT DESERVE MENTION
The stories, sadly, never seem to end – although If Americans Knew dreams of the day when a just peace comes to the region.
Here is a sampling of the various other issues that we addressed in 2021:
- Israeli lawmaker regrets that ethnic cleansing of Palestinians was not completed
- Collective punishment: Israel closes off Gaza’s waters to Palestinian fishing
- Even with ICC investigation looming, Israel refuses to behave itself
- During pandemic, Israel demolition of Palestinian homes is up – way up
- Palestinian Dies in Fire After Israeli Checkpoint Holds Up Firetruck
- On Int’l Women’s Day, Israeli police raid “illegal” Palestinian women’s exhibit
- When Israel demolishes Palestinians’ homes, they live in caves
- Indisputable facts about Israel and the International Criminal Court
- Israeli soldiers break the silence about midnight invasions of Palestinian homes
- When your village becomes a “firing zone” – that’s ethnic cleansing
- Israel destroys Palestinian nature reserve, uproots 10,000 trees
- Israeli harassment of Palestinian Bedouin village won’t let up
- Last-minute land theft: Israel released plans for for 2,500 new settler homes hours before inauguration
- Israeli police officer beats Palestinian who complained about police violence
Palestinians are not without agency. 2021 has seen a huge number of weekly protests throughout the West Bank, demonstrations in East Jerusalem, and several weeks of protests by Gazans. Resistance against occupation is legal – even armed resistance is compatible with international law, though the vast majority of Palestinian resistance is unarmed.
Here are a few examples of Palestinians taking on Israel in 2021:
- Resisting occupation: Palestinian killed, 1 Israeli Dead in Jerusalem
- Gaza border protest: reading between the tweets
- Palestinians launch national football team for amputees
- Gaza border protest: reading between the tweets
- Meet Sami Huraini, leader of a rising youth protest movement in the West Bank
- Balloons: A rudimentary weapon of Palestinian desperation
AMERICAN AND GLOBAL ALLIES OF JUSTICE FOR PALESTINIANS
Worldwide, there is a large contingency of Palestinian rights supporters. We have yet to gain the upper hand over Israel’s propaganda machine, but 2021 was a year of progress.
Here are a few positive stories that If Americans Knew brought you this year:
- Israeli human rights org report: This is apartheid: Jewish supremacy from the River to the Sea
- Another major human rights org reports: “apartheid” in Israel
- United Church of Christ (UCC) labels Israel an Apartheid state
- Human rights org B’Tselem defies Israeli orders to stop teaching about apartheid
- UNHRC passes arms embargo resolution against Israel with surprise votes
- Why we must boycott Pillsbury – by a Pillsbury family member
- Texas: home of the latest fight for the right to boycott Israel
- Rep. Betty McCollum leads effort to block Israel from using US aid to break int’l law
- ‘Winds are shifting’: US Congress criticise Israel in two rare letters
- House Dems remove $1B in extra funding for Israel’s Iron Dome from budget bill
It’s clear to see that Israel and its allies are determined to keep a boot on Palestinians’ necks – but times are changing.
“Apartheid” has become a common term to describe the situation. Americans’ love affair with Israel is declining. Especially after the slaughter in May, attitudes are shifting. This is great news.
But we know from experience that when the Palestinian narrative begins to find acceptance, Israel doubles down on its efforts to silence the truth-tellers (for example, IAK has struggled mightily against bot attacks on our website throughout the year).
And we know that Israel is stirring up trouble on other fronts besides Palestine – bombing Syria, pushing the US toward war with Iran (as it did with Iraq – read this), inserting itself in African politics (this), pushing its agenda in Europe.
Bottom line is: If Americans Knew is committed to justice and peace for the long haul. We hope you will join us. Please share our posts, talk about the Palestinian struggle, contact your Congress members, and support us financially if you possibly can.
We thank you for partnering with us in this worthy cause.
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Kathryn Shihadah is an editor and staff writer for If Americans Knew. She also blogs occasionally at Palestine Home.