Israel. On May 31, the Israeli Navy stormed the international aid convoy “Ship to Gaza”, en route with supplies to the closed Gaza Strip, killing nine Turkish activists. On board the six ships of the convoy were hundreds of activists from 32 countries, including eleven from Sweden. When Israeli commandos, via helicopters and warships, attacked and boarded the vessels on international waters, they met aboard the Turkish ship “Mavi Marmara” activists armed with knives and guns, firing at them and forcing the vessels into the Israeli port city of Ashdod. Dozens of injured activists were taken to hospitals. Many others, including seven Swedes, were arrested, interrogated and released after a few days.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Israel has a population of 8.884 million (2018). The outside world protested in harsh terms and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said he was shocked by the shooting deaths. UN Human Rights Council The UNHRC found in an investigation that Israel had violated the Geneva Convention and other international law through willful killing, torture and inhuman treatment. According to the UN body, the violence was “totally unnecessary and inconceivable”. Israel believed that the soldiers acted in self-defense and that the embarkation was necessary because otherwise it threatened to break the blockade against the Gaza Strip. But according to the report, the blockade was also a violation of international law. An Israeli investigation, led by retired Major General Giora Eiland, determined that the soldiers who boarded the vessels had been ill-prepared and that cooperation with the intelligence service Mossad had failed;
Dramat deteriorated the already frozen relationship with the former ally Turkey, who called his ambassador from Israel, imposed a ban on Israeli military flight in Turkish airspace and demanded damages and a public apology from Israel, something the Israelis refused to give. In January, Israel had apologized for the Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Avalon humiliating Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Celikkol at a meeting.
In January, the government published an investigation into the Gaza offensive 2008-2009, intended as a response to the so-called Goldstone Report of 2009 in which Israel had been severely criticized. The new investigators defended the offensive but admitted that the attack on the UN agency UNWRA’s Gaza City Office had violated the ban on firing artillery grenades near populated areas. Ban Ki Moon reported in February that it was unclear whether Israelis and Palestinians had followed the November 2009 UN resolution that stated that both sides would launch “independent, credible and internationally acceptable” investigations into the Gaza war within three months.
Dubai police reported during the year identifying a number of Israelis suspected of involvement in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a high ranking commander of the Islamist Hamas movement, who had been found murdered in the emirate in January. According to Dubai police, Mossad was behind the murder. In total, there were 32 suspects who had all traveled to Dubai on fake Western passports, which caused Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom to protest by expelling Israeli diplomats.
In October, the government decided to present a bill that meant that all new citizens of the country must swear allegiance to the State of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”. Many within the country’s Palestinian minority were critical of the law change.
Amir Makhoul, a Palestinian activist and Israeli citizen, was sentenced in October to at least seven years in prison for spying on behalf of the militant Lebanese group of Hizbullah. Makboul acknowledged what he was accused of, but said the information he provided was available to anyone on the Internet.
Moshe Katsav, president in 2000-07, was sentenced on December 30 for two cases of rape against his employees. The sentence was expected to be at least four years in prison. In May, Israel was welcomed as a new member of the OECD’s partner countries.
42 people were killed in forest fires that ravaged near Haifa in northern Israel for four days in early December.
The right to demonstrate is limited
Adopts a law restricting the right to demonstrate with reference to the covid 19 pandemic, which has been facing severe restrictions since 18 September (see 13 September); Critics claim that the purpose of the law is to stop criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Forecast: 10 million inhabitants by 2024
Ahead of the Jewish New Year, the statistical authority announces that the population of Israel has grown by 150,000 people in one year. 20,000 of these are Jews who have made aliya, immigrated from other countries. The number of inhabitants amounts to approximately 9,246,000 in total. The forecast is that the 10-million mark will be crossed by the end of 2024.
Agreements are signed at the White House
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain sign agreements with Israel on normalized relations. It takes place during a ceremony at the US White House in Washington, which brings together foreign ministers from both Arab countries and Prime Minister Netanyahu alongside President Trump. In the Palestinian territories, it is triggering protests and a rocket fire against Israel from the Gaza Strip, which the following morning is followed by Israeli bombing of targets in Gaza.
Life for murder of Palestinian family
A Jewish settler is sentenced to three life terms for the 2015 murders of a young Palestinian couple and one of their children. The murders were committed in the village of Duma on the West Bank. The man has also been convicted of attempted murder, arson and hate crimes and is also sentenced to pay damages. The court in Lod sees racism and extremist ideology as driving forces behind the events. Another young resident, who is said to have had a role in the preparations, has admitted, among other things, hate crimes in a settlement with prosecutors (see 18 May 2020). The accomplice is sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
Corona shutdown ahead of major holidays
After the spread of coronavirus reached 4,000 new cases per day, the Netanyahu government decided to shut down society. The closure, perhaps the most severe so far in a country that has previously eased restrictions after the spring pandemic alarm, will last for three weeks, with the possibility of extension. Israelis are not allowed to walk more than 500 meters from home and gatherings are limited to ten people indoors and 20 outdoors. The government is criticized for introducing the rules throughout society, despite the fact that it is possible to separate environments where the spread of infection is greater than elsewhere. This applies above all to residential areas with an ultra-Orthodox population, which, among other things, hold large gatherings. The closure affects two upcoming weekends: the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement yom kippur. The ultra-Orthodox Minister for Housing, Yaakov Litzman, resigns.
Bahrain and Israel are normalizing relations
Bahrain, like the United Arab Emirates, will recognize Israel (see August 13). The countries must establish full diplomatic relations. In Bahrain, where the royal family is Sunni Muslim but the majority of citizens are Shiites, critical citizens air objections to the settlement via social media and join condemnations from, among others, Iran. The Palestinian leaders, within both the PLO and Hamas, are calling on Palestinians to demonstrate, especially in the refugee camps.
Sharp tightening of corona rules
The Israeli ministers responsible for dealing with the corona crisis decide, in the light of the widespread spread of the sars-cov-2 virus, to close all schools except those for students with special needs. In addition, traffic restrictions are introduced at night in about 40 urban areas. Meetings are limited to ten people indoors and twenty outdoors. The number of dead, which was kept low at the beginning of the pandemic in the spring, has passed 1,000 in total. In four communities with large ultra-Orthodox populations, the mayors are protesting against the stricter rules.
Promises to Israel from Kosovo and Serbia
Kosovo recognizes Israel and Serbia is ready to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. The promises have been made in connection with an agreement between the two states in the Balkans on economic cooperation, which has been concluded with the United States as a driving force; President Trump has also promised US loan guarantees to both countries. If Kosovo also moves its mission, becomes the first country with a Muslim majority to do so. Serbia would be the first country in Europe. One motive for Kosovo is that Israel recognizes the country, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Turkey is one of the countries reacting with disappointment towards Kosovo. Skeptics note that the representatives of the United States, Serbia and Kosovo did not sign identical agreement texts, which makes it uncertain which commitments will actually be fulfilled.
Bahrain gives the green light for flight
The Gulf state of Bahrain announces that flights between Israel and the United Arab Emirates will be allowed to pass through the country’s airspace. Such a message has also come from Saudi Arabia, which has previously approved flights between Israel and India. Bahrain has welcomed the announcement on 13 August of the normalization of relations between Israel and the Emirates. There have been contacts between Israel and Bahrain since the 1990s, but the two countries do not have full diplomatic relations.
Attackers’ remains are kept
Israel decides on Palestinians killed in anti-Israel attacks: the remains should not be handed over to relatives. Previously, it only concerned militants who were linked to the Islamist movement Hamas. The aim is to deter Palestinians from violence. It is reprehensible to use bodies as tiles in negotiation games, the human rights organization Adalah emphasizes. Hamas, for its part, is believed to be holding two Israelis captive, people who entered Gaza alone, according to relatives, who are mentally unstable.