Palestine in Pictures: December 2021

A woman wearing a garment featuring Palestinian cross-stitch embroidery protests Israeli cultural theft in Gaza City on 15 December. Controversy erupted after Miss Universe contestants were photographed wearing traditional Palestinian dress during the pageant held in Israel during December. The UN cultural organization UNESCO meanwhile recently included Palestinian cross-stitch embroidery to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Ashraf Amra APA images

The year 2021 brought Palestinians closer to liberation than ever before, though at a great cost.

Seven Palestinians were killed by Israeli police, soldiers and private guards in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during December.

Muhammad Salima, 25, was shot by paramilitary Border Police while lying injured on the ground after allegedly stabbing an Israeli civilian near the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City on 4 December.

As observed by the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, the injured Israeli sustained a “visible, but superficial neck wound.”

The deadly encounter was recorded on video by eyewitnesses, generating condemnation from the UN Human Rights Office in Palestine while the Border Police officers who killed Salima were praised as heroes by Israel’s top leaders.

Israeli authorities closed their investigation into Salima’s killing after only five days.

Al-Haq has called on the International Criminal Court to investigate Salima’s death as an extrajudicial killing.

Child killed at checkpoint

Two days later, a private guard shot and killed Muhammad Nidal Younis Mousa, 15, at Jabara checkpoint near Tulkarm after he allegedly rammed guards with a car.

A video clip recorded by an eyewitness and uploaded to Facebook depicts guards firing towards a motionless vehicle that had apparently crashed into a checkpoint inspection booth.

The guards are shown standing some two meters from the crashed vehicle when a single shot is fired.

Muhammad was the 15th Palestinian child shot and killed by Israeli forces or civilians in the West Bank since the beginning of 2021, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine.

The rights group said that 2021 was the deadliest for Palestinian children since 2014 with 86 boys and girls killed in the West Bank and Gaza, the majority during Israel’s 11-day assault on the Strip in May.

Sixty children were among the some 250 Palestinians killed during the May offensive. An additional seven children were killed by rockets fired by Palestinians that fell inside Gaza.

Defense for Children International-Palestine said it was unable to determine the party responsible for the death of 8-year-old Obaida al-Dahdouh. The boy was killed on 9 June by unexploded ordnance that he found on agricultural land near his home in Gaza City.

Beita protester killed

Nine Palestinians have been killed in the northern West Bank villages of Beita and Beit Dajan since regular protests against a new settlement outpost began in May.

Jamil Abu Ayyash, 31, died after he was shot in the head by Israeli troops during a protest in Beita on 10 December.

More than 5,700 Palestinians have been injured during the protests since May, “including 218 by live ammunition, 1,083 by rubber bullets and 4,341 others who required medical treatment for inhaling tear gas,” according to the UN monitoring group OCHA.

Two days after killing Abu Ayyash, Israeli troops fatally shot Jamil Kayyal, 31, in the West Bank city of Nablus while Palestinians attempted to repel occupation forces who were carrying out an arrest raid.

Israeli authorities claimed that troops fired on Kayyal after he threw “explosives” at the raiding soldiers.

On 21 December, Israeli forces shot Abd al-Aziz Hikmat Mousa, 22, and left him to die in a flaming vehicle at a checkpoint near Mevo Dotan settlement in the northern West Bank.

Troops claimed that they opened fire at Mousa after he attempted to break through the checkpoint.

As in countless other cases in which an alleged Palestinian assailant was shot dead and no Israelis were seriously wounded, the shooting may amount to an extrajudicial execution.

The following day, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Muhammad Issa Abbas, 26, during a raid on al-Bireh near Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the central West Bank.

The military claimed that Abbas fired on troops from a vehicle, causing no injuries, before he was shot.

Father killed in alleged attack

The final Palestinian killed by Israeli occupation forces in 2021 was Amir Atef Rayan, 36, shot near Ariel settlement on New Year’s Eve.

The military claimed that Rayan attempted a stabbing attack at a bus stop where soldiers and civilians were present.

According to the military’s narrative, Rayan got out of a vehicle and sprinted towards a bus stop but was shot by troops before he could reach anyone.

The Israeli military tweeted a photo of a soldier holding a knife that it claimed Rayan was carrying.

However, a friend of Rayan disputed the military’s claim, saying that the man worked in Israel to support his young family and that his wife is expecting their fifth child.

Around 330 Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops, police and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during 2021, according to tracking by The Electronic Intifada.

Israeli settler killed

Fourteen Israelis were killed by Palestinians in the context of the occupation during the same period, most as a result of rocket fire from Gaza during the 11-day escalation in May.

Among them were two Palestinian citizens of Israel, 16-year-old Nadine Awad and her father Khalil, who live in a village not recognized by the government and which lacks bomb shelters, which are provided to Jewish communities.

Three foreign nationals were also among the 13 people killed in Israel during the May war.

Three Israelis were killed in the West Bank during the year, including Yehuda Dimentman, a settler who was shot while leaving Homesh, a settlement outpost in the northern West Bank, on 16 December.

Also in December, an Israeli driver hit Ghadeer Masalmah, 70, with his car and left the woman without rendering aid near Ramallah on 24 December.

The Israeli who hit the elderly Palestinian woman drove to Shiloh settlement “while reporting the incident to police,” according to Israeli media.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, three Hamas members were killed and others injured in a shooting in Burj al-Shamali refugee camp in the south of the country on 12 December. Hamas blamed forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority for the attack.

The shootings occurred during the funeral of a Hamas supporter killed in a blast two days earlier.

A state news agency said that the explosion took place at a Hamas weapons depot in the camp. Hamas stated that it was caused “by an electrical fault in a warehouse containing oxygen and gas cylinders for coronavirus patients, as well as detergents and disinfectants,” the Reuters news agency reported.

Palestinians gather around the remains of a car accidentally driven into the center of the West Bank city of Ramallah by an Israeli settler on 1 December. The vehicle was set on fire by Palestinian youths. The occupants were unharmed and transferred to Israel by the Palestinian Authority.

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Israeli police walk in front of a protest in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners outside Damon prison in Haifa on 4 December. According to protest organizers, Israel is currently holding 42 girls and 32 women prisoners at Damon.

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The wife of Palestinian prisoner Nahed Hamid, lies on a bed at Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital next to her twins who were conceived with sperm smuggled out of an Israeli prison, 4 December.

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Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtayeh at the Christmas tree lighting at Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on 4 December.

Prime Minister’s office

Maher Abu Hadaf shows ornamental breeds of chicken that he raises at his farm in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on 5 December.

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Kayed al-Fasfous greets people in the West Bank city of Hebron on 5 December following his release from Israeli prison after he concluded 131 days of hunger strike. Fasfous ended his hunger strike on 23 November after an agreement was reached to end his indefinite detention without charge or trial.

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A Palestinian man confronts Israeli soldiers during the demolition of his house under the pretext that it was built without a permit in Yatta, south of the West Bank city of Hebron, on 6 December. Palestinians are rarely granted building permits in the some 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control.

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Members of the Ziada family gather outside their home in al-Bureij refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, after a Dutch appeals court in The Hague upheld a lower court’s decision to throw out a civil suit against Israel’s defense minister and a former senior military officer over their roles in a deadly 2014 airstrike in Gaza which killed six members of the family, 7 December.

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A Palestinian man makes a traditional straw broom at his workshop in Roujeeb village, east of the West Bank city of Nablus, on 8 December.

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Israeli right-wing activists protest in Sheikh Jarrah following an attack in the East Jerusalem neighborhood earlier in the day during which a Palestinian teen allegedly stabbed an Israeli woman, 8 December.

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Palestinians gather to celebrate the lighting of the Christmas tree in Gaza City on 10 December.

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A Palestinian voter casts her ballot in the first phase of local elections in Deir al-Hatab, east of the West Bank city of Nablus, on 12 December. Polls opened that morning for the first phase of local elections in 154 Palestinian localities, all in the West Bank, after attempts to hold elections in the Gaza Strip failed and were therefore delayed until the second phase scheduled for 26 March.

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Palestinians carry the body of Jamil al-Kayyal during his funeral in the West Bank city of Nablus on 13 December. Al-Kayyal was killed and two others injured during an Israeli military raid in the area of Ras al-Ain in the West Bank city of Nablus.

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A Palestinian works in a feed factory in Gaza City on 14 December. The agricultural sector in Gaza faces many difficult economic challenges due to high global grain prices.

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Palestinian farmer Abd al-Karim Daraghmeh, 64, works land using a traditional horse-pulled plough in al-Lubban al-Sharqiya village, near the West Bank city of Nablus, on 15 December.

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A home belonging to a Palestinian couple after it was attacked by a mob of Israeli settlers overnight in Qaryut, a village in the northern West Bank, on 18 December. The attack left Wael Maqbal, 55, with fractured ribs. His wife Samiha, 46, required medical attention after inhaling pepper spray. The attack occurred hours after a settler was killed in a shooting attack nearby.

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Palestinians spend time at the Gaza City beach during stormy weather on 20 December.

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Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas meets with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 22 December.

Thaer Ganaim

An Israeli bulldozer razes Palestinian produce stands in al-Hijri village south of the West Bank city of Hebron on 22 December.

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Palestinians enjoy a cold and rainy night in Gaza City on 22 December.

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An Israeli soldier stands guard as settlers march to Homesh seven days after an Israeli was killed while leaving the unauthorized settlement outpost in the northern West Bank, 23 December.

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Israeli soldiers block the main entrance to Burqa village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, on 23 December.

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A Palestinian child stands outside her home on a cold and rainy day in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, 23 December.

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Israeli soldiers take aim at Palestinian protesters following a protest in solidarity with prisoners in Israeli jails, West Bank city of Hebron, 24 December.

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A Palestinian man and his son on the rubble of Gaza City’s al-Jawhara tower on 24 December. The tower was destroyed in Israeli airstrikes during May.

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Palestinian refugees from Iqrit celebrate Christmas on 25 December 2021 and commemorate the destruction of the village and forced displacement of its residents by Zionist forces in 1948. Only the village’s church and cemetery remain.

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Ahmad al-Qidra, newly released from Israeli prison, speaks during a ceremony celebrating his freedom after 19 years in Israeli lockup, Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, 25 December.

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Doaa Magdi at her Gaza City shop decorated for Christmas on 26 December.

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The power plant in Nuseirat, central Gaza Strip, on 27 December. Qatar, the Palestinian Authority and Gaza’s electric company signed a deal advancing a long-term project to supply Gaza’s only power plant with natural gas.

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Palestinians protest in the West Bank city of Nablus in solidarity with female prisoners held in Israeli jails, 28 December.

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A Palestinian woman comforts a child as the Israeli military demolishes their under-construction home in the West Bank city of Hebron, 28 December.

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Palestinian artist Mohammed Totah poses near his sand sculpture at the Gaza City beach on 28 December.

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Israeli forces demolish the house of an engaged Palestinian couple in al-Sawahira al-Shaqira, a town near Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, on 29 December. Israel destroyed more than 900 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during 2021, according to the UN monitoring group OCHA, displacing some 1,200 people.

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Palestinian factions attend a meeting in Gaza City on 29 December one day after Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the latter’s residence.

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Palestinian factions take part in a joint military exercise in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip on 29 December.

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Shahd Jouda displays clothes in a small shop on the roof of her family’s home in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on 29 December. The economy in Gaza has been in recession since Israel’s attacks during May and this will remain the case unless a real and actual reconstruction plan is implemented. Reconstruction will require recruiting large numbers of Palestinian workers, which will reduce unemployment.

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Palestinian protesters confront Israeli troops following a demonstration against land expropriation in Kfar Qaddum village near the Jewish settlement of Kedumim in the northern West Bank, 31 December.

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A Palestinian youth takes a selfie outside a shop in Gaza City on New Year’s Eve, 31 December.

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