Senior Hamas leader among dozens arrested overnight in West Bank

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Senior Hamas leader among dozens arrested overnight in West Bank

Sheik Hassan Yousef detained on suspicion of ‘promoting’ the terror group’s activities amid spike in violence, Shin Bet says

Sheikh Hassan Yousef is arrested in his home by IDF troops, October 20, 2015. (Screen capture from YouTube)

Sheikh Hassan Yousef is arrested in his home by IDF troops, October 20, 2015. (Screen capture from YouTube)

Israeli troops, in raids across the West Bank overnight Tuesday, arrested 32 Palestinians for suspected involvement in terror activities and violent rioting, as well as a senior Hamas figure, security forces said.

Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a Hamas leader in the West Bank and one of the group’s founding members, was arrested in Ramallah, the Shin Bet security service said.

He is suspected of “involvement in promoting and advancing Hamas’s activities in the West Bank,” it confirmed in a statement after Palestinian media broke news of the arrest.

Yousef was recently released from administrative detention, and has been arrested many times in recent years. Earlier this week, he called for a violent response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A Palestinian protester pulls a burning tire during clashes with Israeli security forces near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 9, 2017, following the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Since Trump announced his decision last Wednesday, the West Bank has seen daily protests that have at time devolved into clashes.

Hamas last week called for a new intifada, or uprising, against Israel over the US decision, urging Palestinians to confront soldiers and settlers, and allowing thousands of Gazans to clash with Israeli troops at the Gaza border fence. Its leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, on Friday praised the “blessed intifada,” urged the liberation of Jerusalem, and made plain the group was seeking to intensify violence against Israel.

In his address, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites. The final status of Jerusalem is a key issue in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim the eastern neighborhoods of the city as their future capital.

The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum, but rejected by the international community.

Police find a rocket, fired from Gaza, inside a kindergarten in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on December 9, 2017. (Israel Police)

Alongside the clashes in the West Bank, recent days have seen an escalation in violence around Gaza, where Yousef’s Hamas group holds sway.

In the latest in a series of tit-for-tat exchanges, the Israeli Air Force early Wednesday morning struck a Hamas facility in the southern Gaza Strip in retaliation for Palestinian rocket fire hours earlier.

On Sunday, Israel demolished a Hamas attack tunnel that penetrated hundreds of meters into Israeli territory from the southern Gaza Strip. It was the second tunnel destroyed by Israel in less than six weeks.

During the overnight raids, IDF medics treated an elderly Palestinian woman who had a heart attack in the village of al-Zubeidat, near Jericho, but eventually pronounced her dead after their efforts failed.

The IDF denied implications made by Palestinian media that the woman’s heart attack was triggered by stun grenades thrown by Israeli troops after residents threw rocks at them. An army official said the two incidents were unrelated, happening at significantly different times during the night.

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Abbas to boycott Pence as protests over Jerusalem continue

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

W BANK RIOTS LESS INTENSE

Abbas to boycott Pence as protests over Jerusalem continue

600 in violent protests in West Bank, hundreds demonstrate at funerals in Gaza and at fence, 6 arrested in Jerusalem; soldiers use tear gas to disperse rioters near Bethlehem

  • Israeli mounted police disperse Palestinian protesters on December 9, 2017, in East Jerusalem. ( AFP PHOTO / Ahmad GHARABLI)
    Israeli mounted police disperse Palestinian protesters on December 9, 2017, in East Jerusalem. ( AFP PHOTO / Ahmad GHARABLI)
  • Israeli police disperse Palestinian protesters on December 9, 2017, in East Jerusalem. as unrest simmers over US President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
    Israeli police disperse Palestinian protesters on December 9, 2017, in East Jerusalem. as unrest simmers over US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
  • Israeli border guards take position on December 9, 2017, during a demonstration in East Jerusalem against the US president's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. ( AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
    Israeli border guards take position on December 9, 2017, during a demonstration in East Jerusalem against the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. ( AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
  • Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli forces near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on December 9, 2017, following the US president's decision to recognize the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. ( AFP PHOTO / Musa AL SHAER)
    Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli forces near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on December 9, 2017, following the US president’s decision to recognize the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. ( AFP PHOTO / Musa AL SHAER)
  • Palestinian mourners carry the body of Mahmoud al-Masri, a 30-year-old Palestinian man who was killed the previous day in clashes with Israeli troops, during his funeral in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 9, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)
    Palestinian mourners carry the body of Mahmoud al-Masri, a 30-year-old Palestinian man who was killed the previous day in clashes with Israeli troops, during his funeral in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 9, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)
  • Members of the Hamas terror group's military wing carry the body of their comrade Mohamed al-Safadi, who was killed the previous day in an Israeli air strike after rockets was fired from Gaza into Israel, during his funeral in Gaza City on December 9, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
    Members of the Hamas terror group’s military wing carry the body of their comrade Mohamed al-Safadi, who was killed the previous day in an Israeli air strike after rockets was fired from Gaza into Israel, during his funeral in Gaza City on December 9, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
  • An injured Palestinian man arrives at a hospital to receive treatment following an Israeli air strike in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, on December 8, 2017 .(AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)
    An injured Palestinian man arrives at a hospital to receive treatment following an Israeli air strike in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, on December 8, 2017 .(AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)
  • Israeli soldier stands during clashes with Palestinians following a protest against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the West Bank City of Nablus, Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
    Israeli soldier stands during clashes with Palestinians following a protest against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the West Bank City of Nablus, Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet with US Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the West Bank this month, a senior Palestinian official said Saturday, as Palestinian protests continued in the aftermath of the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Some 600 Palestinians held violent protests at some 20 spots in the West Bank, confronting security forces, and another 400 protested in Gaza, the IDF said. There were also protests involving dozens of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. As of late afternoon, however, the protests were markedly less intense than on Friday, when some 5,000 Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israeli security officials expect the protests to continue for several more days, Hadashot news reported on Saturday afternoon, but do not anticipate a major escalation.

Abbas’s diplomatic adviser, Majdi Khaldi, said that Abbas won’t meet Pence “because the US has crossed red lines” on Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump holds up a signed memorandum after he delivered a statement on Jerusalem from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 6, 2017 as US Vice President Mike Pence looks on. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Abbas had viewed close ties with Washington as strategically important because of the US role as Mideast broker. The snub of Pence signaled a sharp deterioration in relations.

The White House warned on Thursday that canceling the meeting planned for later this month in the West Bank would be “counterproductive”, but Abbas has been under heavy domestic pressure to shun Pence.

Jibril Rajoub, a senior member of Abbas’s Fatah party, had said Friday that Pence was “not welcome in Palestine.”

Demonstrations continued Saturday as Palestinians called for a further “Day of Rage” to protest Trump’s decision.

In Gaza, where four people have been killed — two Hamas gunmen killed in an airstrike on one of the terror group’s camps, and two who were shot during Friday’s protests — hundreds of Palestinians were protesting near the border fence with Israel and at the funerals for the dead.

Palestinian mourners carry the body of Mahmoud al-Masri, a 30-year-old Palestinian man who was killed the previous day in clashes with Israeli troops, during his funeral in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 9, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

One Palestinian was seriously wounded by Israeli fire in a demonstration by the fence in southern Gaza, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, has called for a new intifada, urged Palestinians to confront Israeli soldiers and settlers, and vowed to continue violence until the liberation of Jerusalem.

In East Jerusalem on Saturday, dozens of youths tried to block a main road and confront policemen, who were guarding the area. The crowd, which threw stones and other objects, was dispersed, police said, and six Palestinians were arrested. Two police officers were injured by stone-throwers.

Video showed horse-mounted police officers charging into crowds of people.

In the West Bank, there were clashes near the Tomb of Rachel near Bethlehem, where soldiers were using tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades to turn back demonstrators who were throwing rocks and petrol bombs and burning tires. At least 10 Palestinians were lightly hurt, most by smoke inhalation, Israel Radio reported.

There were several smaller protests in the cities of Tulkarem and Hebron, with no immediate reports of injuries.

The IDF said a total of 600 Palestinians took part in the West Bank protests at 20 locations. One person was arrested and three were wounded, the army said.

Meanwhile some 100 people protested in the Bedouin town of Rahat in southern Israel.

In a Wednesday address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

Friday saw some 5,000 Palestinian protesters demonstrating and clashing with Israeli security forces at almost 30 locations across the West Bank and Gaza Strip after midday prayers.

Israeli border guards take position on December 9, 2017, during a demonstration in East Jerusalem against the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. ( AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)

Gaza-based terror groups fired rockets at Israel, with one landing in the southern town of Sderot; Israel responded with air strikes on Hamas targets. On Saturday, the Hamas-run health ministry said two Hamas gunmen were killed in one of the strikes on a Hamas facility in Nusseirat in the central Gaza Strip.

The rocket on Sderot caused minor damage, and no injuries.

The Israeli army had said it was braced for more protests on Saturday, and it stepped up the deployment of troops at West Bank settlements in an attempt to thwart any attempted terror attacks. It said the 5,000 demonstrators on Friday marked a lower number than anticipated, but expected protests to continue for several more days, Hadashot news reported on Friday night.

Palestinian rioters throw stones towards Israeli troops at an Israeli checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 8, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

The army was expected to hold a review of the situation on Saturday evening and decide on the continued deployment of additional troops in the area, Israel Radio said Saturday.

On Friday, Hamas called on the Palestinian public to confront IDF soldiers and Israeli settlers across the West Bank in demonstrations on Saturday.

Israeli soldier stands during clashes with Palestinians following a protest against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the West Bank City of Nablus, Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

In Jerusalem, hundreds of Palestinian rallied after Friday prayers near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a flashpoint site in the holy city which, along with the Dome of the Rock, sits on the Temple Mount. The holiest place in Judaism, the mount is known to Muslims as Haram al Sharif. PLO and Turkish flags were raised during Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa.

Most of the thousands of worshipers dispersed peacefully after Friday prayers in the Old City. But hundreds of demonstrators burned Israeli flags while others chanted, “The war is approaching, Al-Quds Arabiya,” using the Arabic name for Jerusalem and declaring it an “Arab” city. Protesters also chanted, “Let us die as martyrs — there is no place for the State of Israel.”

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Hamas Head Urges New Intifada As Palestinians Rage

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

ISRAELI ARMY BEEFS UP ITS PRESENCE

Hamas head urges new intifada as Palestinians rage against Trump move

Gaza terrorist group calls for armed uprising against Israel; marches planned for West Bank amid general strike

Palestinian youths set tires ablaze during a protest against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City, December 7, 2017. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)

Palestinian youths set tires ablaze during a protest against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City, December 7, 2017. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday called for a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising, over US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“This Zionist policy supported by the US cannot be confronted unless we ignite a new intifada,” the head of the armed Palestinian terrorist group that runs the Gaza Strip said in a speech in Gaza City.

Several thousand Palestinians marched in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, burning US and Israeli flags while chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

In the West Bank, The Palestine Liberation Organization announced a strike in protest across the territory, shutting schools and businesses. Marches were planned in major Palestinian cities at noon.

Rioters threw Molotov cocktails and stones at Israeli cars on a road near the West Bank village of Rantis, outside Ramallah. There were no reports of injuries.

Israel said it would beef up security with “a number of battalions,” preparing for the possibility of violence following Trump’s announcement.

Haniyeh called for quickly finishing a reconciliation process with Palestinian Authority President Abbas’s Fatah party in order to create a united front against Israeli and American policy, rejecting the idea of an Israeli state or Israeli capital.

“Jerusalem is united; there’s no eastern or western [Jerusalem]. It is an Arab Palestinian Islamic capital of the State of Palestine,” Haniyeh said, decrying “the blatant and blind bias of the American administration and this satanic alliance.”

“I say today that Palestine is also one and united from the sea to the river. It cannot be divided into two states or two entities. Palestine and Jerusalem are ours. We do not recognize the legitimacy of the occupation and the existence of Israel on the land of Palestine in order for it to have a capital,” he said.

Palestinian protestors burn tires as they wave Palestinian flags and pictures of late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat during a protest at the main Square in Gaza City, December 6, 2017. (Adel Hana/AP)

Hamas had issued warnings in recent days as news of Trump’s intentions spread, and it reacted to his Wednesday speech with another.

“This decision will open the gates of hell on US interests in the region,” Hamas official Ismail Radwan told journalists after Trump’s announcement.

He called on Arab and Islamic states to “cut off economic and political ties with the US embassy and expel American ambassadors to cripple” this decision.

Fuming Palestinian leaders in the Fatah-controlled West Bank responded to Trump’s speech with outrage, declaring that the United States could no longer serve as Middle East peace broker.

President Mahmoud Abbas called the change in longstanding US policy “deplorable.”

“These deplorable and unacceptable measures deliberately undermine all peace efforts,” Abbas said in a speech after Trump’s announcement.

A picture taken on December 6, 2017 shows a Palestinian man watching an address given by US President Donald Trump at a cafe in Jerusalem.
US President Donald Trump recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, 2017. (Ahmad GHARABLI/AFP)

He said it amounted to “an announcement of US withdrawal from playing the role it has been playing in the past decade in sponsoring the peace process.”

Abbas is scheduled to travel to Jordan on Thursday to coordinate a response to Trump’s decision with King Abdullah II.

Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization who long served as the Palestinians’ top negotiator, said Trump had “destroyed the two-state solution.”

“As a chief Palestinian negotiator, how can I sit with these people if they dictate on me the future of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital?” he said.

“I think tonight he is strengthening the forces of extremists in this region as no one has done before,” Erekat said, referring to Trump.

After the announcement, Palestinian officials said they switched off the lights to the giant Christmas tree in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, believed to be the city where Jesus was born, in protest.

In his Wednesday address, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated peace failures it was past time for a new approach, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

A giant US flag screened alongside Israel’s national flag on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, December 6, 2017. (Ahmad GHARABLI/AFP)

Trump also said the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though he set no timetable for that.

The announcement upturns decades of precedent and runs counter to international consensus, with no other country currently taking the same stance.

Jerusalem’s status is among the most difficult issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the US traditional position has been that it must be negotiated between the two sides.

While Israel has long considered Jerusalem its capital, with the prime minister’s office and parliament building located there, countries have avoided recognizing it as such to prevent damaging hopes for a two-state solution.

The Palestinians see the eastern sector of the city as the capital of their future state.

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Jerusalem, Israel, And The Palestinian People

Jerusalem, Israel, And The Palestinian People

 

So, tomorrow December the 6th President Trump is supposed to say whether or not he is going to officially recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and if the U.S. is going to move our Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So, this article this evening is simply my thoughts on this issue, I am not consulting other writers nor any pre-written documents. I am only going by articles that I have already read during my lifetime, up to this point in time. I know that no matter what I say, I am going to get a lot of people angry simply because I don’t agree with them.

Today the President of Turkey, Mr. Erdogan threatened to cut relations with Israel if Mr. Trump goes ahead with the Jerusalem Capital issue. To me, this is a fraudulent concept, if Mr. Erdogan wants to cut relations with any country it should be the U.S. not Israel. Israel cannot control what comes out of the mouth of Donald Trump, no one can. It is said that the whole of the ‘Arab League’ will cause many deaths if Mr. Trump goes through with this announcement. These type of threats help show the ‘low road’ of the Islamic leaders, not their intelligence. It is also because of threats like this that would cause a narcissists like Trump to not bow down to such a threat because it would/will make him look weak and in this case, that is actually true.

Now, for my personal thoughts on how to make the Jerusalem Capital issue work for all sides, yet at the same time not make any side totally happy. Isn’t that pretty much what the definition of what a compromise is? My idea is for Jerusalem to be declared the Capital of Palestine, all of Palestine. This would encompass all of Palestine and all the people of Palestine, Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, the people of Gaza and of the West Bank. This way it is everyone’s Capital. All people of this region, no matter if they are Israeli Jews or residents of the ‘so called’ Palestinians of the West Bank can prove that they are capable of recognizing each others right to exist, in peace with each other.

Because of the current security issues raised by terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and the PLO plus the fact that Jerusalem was the Capital of Israel at least 1,600 years before Mohammad was even born, Israel would have to have control of the security issues within all of the city. Maybe in time these folks who are hell-bent on violence will mature into civilized human beings and the ‘walls’ of security can be let down. Israel on their side would need to allow the Palestinian people to have such things as their Embassy in Eastern Jerusalem once there is a two State agreement in place. All sides of this issue should be allowed to call Jerusalem their Capital. Jerusalem is the ‘City of God’ and it should be able to be an ‘International’ City. Yet the only way for this to come about is if groups like Hamas who refuse the existence of the State of Israel to lay down all of their weapons. Israel can not allow its citizens to continue to be fodder to murderers, so until all Islamic groups in the Palestine region agree to commit no violence, there can not be a safe and secure two State compromise.

Another reality is that even though Mr. Trump seems to think that he decides if Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel, he actually has no say so in the matter. Jerusalem is and has been the Capital of the people of Israel for more than 2,600 years. It is God who decided that Jerusalem is His City. The world can call Tel Aviv Israels Capital, but it has never been Israels Capital, Jerusalem is. But there is no reason that all of the people of Palestine can not call Jerusalem their Capital as it is the Capital of all of Palestine.

 

 

Hamas member nabbed entering Israel spills info on Gaza tunnels

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Hamas member nabbed entering Israel spills info on Gaza tunnels

IDF says Ahmad Magdi Muhammad Avid, caught as he crossed border fence from Palestinian enclave, was active for years with terror group

Illustrative. A picture taken on May 6, 2016, from the Israeli side of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip shows the exit of a newly unearthed Hamas attack tunnel. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

Illustrative. A picture taken on May 6, 2016, from the Israeli side of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip shows the exit of a newly unearthed Hamas attack tunnel. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

A member of Hamas’s military wing, captured after he entered Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip, has provided Israeli investigators with a wealth of information about the terror group’s tunneling operations, the IDF said Thursday.

In a statement, the army said Ahmad Magdi Muhammad Avid, 23, from Shejaiya in the Gaza Strip, was captured on September 27 after crossing the border fence in northern Gaza. He was not armed at the time of his capture and the army did not say what his purpose was for crossing the heavily guarded border.

Avid was a member of the Hamas military wing, which he joined in 2013. He trained in the use of anti-tank weapons, military engineering operations, and sniping. He was also involved in tunnel digging in the area of Shejaiya and was a member of the Hamas border patrol forces.

During his interrogation, Avid gave up a considerable amount of information about the Hamas tunneling operation in the Gaza Strip, including attack tunnels leading into Israel and tunnels inside Gaza intended for use in battles against the IDF, the statement said.

“The investigation of Ahmad Avid once again revealed Hamas’s terror activities, using tunnels to advance terrorist activity against Israel,” the army said.

Hamas terrorist Ahmad Magdi Muhammad Avid, who was captured by the IDF as he crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip, September 27, 2017. (IDF spokesperson)

He was indicted on October 23 at the Beersheba District Court on “serious” security-related charges, the army said, though it did not specify.

On October 30, Israel blew up an attack tunnel leading into Israeli territory that was being dug by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad together with Hamas.

In total, 14 terrorists were killed, two of them from Hamas and the rest from Islamic Jihad, including two senior commanders. The bodies of five of the Islamic Jihad terrorists, who were working on the tunnel inside Israeli territory, were recovered by the IDF a few days later. The IDF said it had not intended to kill terrorists when it destroyed the tunnel. In comments after the blast, IDF officials also noted that many of the terrorists died not in the explosion, but in botched Gazan rescue attempts.

Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, has used tunnels dug under the border to launch terror attacks inside Israel. It also has prepared an extensive network of tunnels inside the coastal enclave for its fighters to use in battles against a possible incursion by the IDF, as it did during the summer 2014 war.

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Citing Quran, Kuwaiti Pundit Says Israel ‘A Legitimate State’ Not An Occupier

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

‘WHEN ISRAEL WAS ESTABLISHED THERE WAS NO PALESTINE’

Citing Quran, Kuwaiti pundit says Israel ‘a legitimate state,’ not an occupier

In Kuwaiti TV interview that prompts angry Arab response, Abdullah Al-Hadlaq praises Israeli culture and values, calls for alliance with Jewish state against common enemies

Kuwaiti writer Abdullah Al-Hadlaq on Alrai TV (YouTube screenshot)

Kuwaiti writer Abdullah Al-Hadlaq on Alrai TV (YouTube screenshot)

Al-Hadlaq cited Quranic verses as proof that “Israelites have the right to the Holy Land. Allah assigned that land to them, and they did not plunder it.

“The history of the Israelite’s is ancient, predating Islam. Therefore we Muslims must acknowledge that the Israelite’s have a right to that land, and that they have not plundered it,” he said.

Al-Hadlaq also spoke with glowing praise of Israel’s “scientific centers and universities, the likes of which even the oldest and most powerful Arab countries lack.”

And he celebrated Israel’s loyalty to its soldiers, speaking effusively of the lengthy public campaign to free soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity in 2011. He said he wished Arabs could be like the people of Israel “who rallied, down to the very last one, to defend a single Israeli soldier.

“By Allah, if he were a soldier in any Arab country, would his nation, country or head of state rally the same way Israel did? The Arab countries have had thousands of casualties, and nobody cares about them.”

Finally, Al-Hadlaq called for cooperation with Israel against common enemies such as Iran and its allies. “Why shouldn’t we live in peaceful coexistence with Israel and cooperate with it?” he asked.

He suggested a three-way alliance between Israel, the US and Gulf states to “annihilate Hezbollah beyond resurrection.”

It was not the first time Al-Hadlaq has made his pro-Israeli opinions known. He has in the past written columns in which he has defended Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of Hamas attacks, and lauded Israel’s democracy in a region of oppressive regimes.

He has been heavily criticized in Arab circles for these views.

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Is Trump Administration Working On A Serious Israeli PA Peace Plan?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

US must address our security needs, PM says amid peace plan speculation

Israel ‘won’t agree to talks with the Palestinians as long as Hamas’ is part of Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu tells fellow ministers

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on November 19, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on November 19, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel’s response to any peace plan proposed by the Trump administration would be determined solely by the country’s security needs and interests.

The comments came amid reports that the US plans to push forward with a peace plan that would recognize a Palestinian state but leave open the possibility for all Israeli settlers to remain in their homes. An Israeli TV report to this effect Saturday night was dismissed as inaccurate by both Israel and the US.

Speaking to a gathering of Likud ministers Sunday morning, Netanyahu said, “As for the speculation I’ve been hearing [about the US plan], if [US President Donald] Trump presents a diplomatic plan, the only consideration that will guide me will be Israel’s national and security interests.”

At the full cabinet meeting shortly after, Netanyahu told ministers, “I don’t intend to address the many speculations we’ve heard over the weekend” regarding the Trump plan. But, he added, the security and other interests that will determine Israel’s response to such a plan “have been explained fully to our American friends.”

At the earlier meeting, Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin asked Netanyahu if the Trump administration was aware of last month’s cabinet decision that ruled out negotiating with any Palestinian government “that relies on Hamas.”

“Very much,” Netanyahu replied, according to Channel 10 news. “I, too, won’t agree to talks with the Palestinians as long as Hamas is part of an alliance [with the Palestinian Authority,” he told the Likud ministers.

According to a Hadashot (formerly Channel 2) news report Saturday, the US plan would include recognition of a Palestinian state, but no insistence on the evacuation of Israeli settlements or settlers under a permanent accord, while Washington would back most of Israel’s security demands regarding the West Bank.

Citing what it said were senior Israelis intimately involved in the ongoing discussions with Trump’s peace team, Hadashot said the plan would see Trump prepared to offer recognition of Palestinian statehood, with the parameters of that state to include land swaps. The borders, however, would “not necessarily” be based on the pre-1967 lines.

Sunni Arab states and others would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in economic assistance for the Palestinians to help encourage Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the deal, the report said.

The US would recognize most of Israel’s stated security needs, including for the ongoing presence of Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley, the TV report added. It said Netanyahu, for his part, was pushing for the retention of overall Israeli security control in all Palestinian territory.

No settlers or settlements would be evacuated under the US proposal, the TV report said, and no Arabs would be required to relocate.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and US President Donald Trump are seen prior to their meeting at the Palace Hotel in New York City ahead of the United Nations General Assembly on September 18, 2017.(AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

The report was immediately denied by both Washington and Jerusalem.

A White House official called it “not an accurate representation” of the peace plan being worked on.

“There is constant speculation and guessing about what we are working on and this report is more of the same,” the official said. “It is not an accurate representation; rather it is a mix of possibilities and ideas that have existed for decades.”

“What we can say is we are engaged in a productive dialogue with all relevant parties and are taking a different approach than the past to create an enduring peace deal,” the official told The Times of Israel. “We are not going to put an artificial deadline on anything and we have no imminent plans beyond continuing our conversations. As we have always said, our job is to facilitate a deal that works for both Israelis and Palestinians, not to impose anything on them.”

Netanyahu’s office similarly stated that “the report is not accurate.” It said Netanyahu’s response to the US proposal would depend on its content and specifically on whether it met “the security needs and national needs of the State of Israel.”

The proposal is to be presented within months, but not in the next month, the TV report claimed. It will not deal with the issue of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, or with US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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The day Palestine gave up

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

ANALYSISARAFAT MISREAD THE ISRAELIS. ABBAS MISREADS THE PALESTINIANS

The day Palestine gave up

In last month’s reconciliation agreement, Abbas handed his legacy into Hamas’s keeping, and Hamas revealed that it is strong enough to drag its people to war, but not to freedom

Haviv Rettig Gur

File: Palestinians protesting in Gaza, November 12, 2012. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

File: Palestinians protesting in Gaza, November 12, 2012. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

On November 1, against all expectations, Hamas officials dismantled the checkpoints the organization maintained inside the Israeli-controlled crossings on the Israeli-Gazan border.

It was a dramatic step. No longer would Palestinians leaving Gaza for Israel or the West Bank face questioning by Hamas intelligence officials about their business. No longer would Palestinians entering Gaza face the exorbitant import taxes and other fees imposed by Hamas.

That bears repeating. In taking this step, Hamas, a group choked on almost every side by enemies foreign and domestic, willingly surrendered a lucrative source of income that fed many millions of shekels each year into its coffers.

More startling still: it was a step beyond what Hamas was strictly required to do at this stage under the reconciliation agreement signed with the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in Cairo last month that handed some control over Gaza to the PA.

A Hamas security man walks inside a border checkpoint building after it was decommissioned at the northern entrance of the Gaza Strip just past the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, on November 1, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

It is not enough to simply say these actions are part of “reconciliation.” Hamas’s commitment to “national reconciliation” has never extended this far in the past. What changed? What could possibly drive Hamas to surrender part of its rule over Gaza and renounce vital sources of influence and money?

Winners and losers

At first glance, it is Fatah, not Hamas, that appears the clear winner from the agreement. In the reconciliation deal, Fatah regained a foothold in Gaza for the first time since its forces were summarily routed from the Strip in 2007.

The advantages for Fatah are many. Its chief, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, now has an answer to the complaint occasionally heard from Israeli officials that he cannot negotiate a peace agreement because he neither controls nor represents half of the Palestinian body politic. Similarly, his standing on the world stage is boosted by the sheer fact of movement. There is a crack in the status quo. If Fatah and Hamas can reconcile, some diplomats have quietly suggested, perhaps wider gulfs, such as those separating Israelis and Palestinians, can also be bridged.

The ability to show progress also has financial implications. Incorporating Hamas into a new PA government would probably cost the PA dearly, as some countries and international institutions would find it difficult to fund Palestinian agencies linked to Hamas or its officials. On the other hand, if Fatah can incorporate Hamas sufficiently for “reconciliation” to be realized, while maintaining a firewall between Hamas and aid-receiving institutions, the takeover of Gaza could yet turn out to be a financial boon. International assistance to Gaza all but dried up under Hamas. If it picks up again under PA auspices, there’s a lot of money, institution-building and political capital to be gained for Fatah.

Palestinians in Gaza City wave Palestinian and Egyptian flags to celebrate the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah in Egypt, October 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

And what has Hamas gained for all that? The answer, ironically, is that the very things it lost are its most significant gain.

When it seized Gaza from Fatah in 2007, Hamas declared that the takeover validated its vision of an Islamic Palestine, that its rise against all odds, against the express wishes of the PA, Israel and much of the international community, proved that these opponents, for all their immense power, could be pushed back, and that pious Muslims could find themselves on the ascendant in their wake.

Hamas’s troubles may have begun when it made the mistake of believing its own propaganda. In the name of its pious devotion to the cause, it drove Gaza from one ideological clash to another, dragging its long-suffering population not only into repeated rounds of war with Israel, but even, inexplicably to outsiders, into the bloodstained mess of the civil war between the Egyptian army and the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’s one-time patrons and ideological forebears.

Palestinian children fill jerrycans with drinking water from public taps in the southern Gaza Strip, June 11, 2017. (AFP/SAID KHATIB)

Facing an Israeli blockade from the start of Hamas’s rule in 2007, as of 2014 Gazans found themselves under a ruthlessly tightening Egyptian one as well — the Egyptian army’s response to Hamas’s meddling. And beginning in 2017, Abbas’s PA began imposing its own financial stranglehold, denying the Hamas-led government in Gaza funds from the PA for the provision of basic services such as electricity.

Hamas could blame and bluster, but it was becoming increasingly difficult for it to argue it was leading Gaza to a better place.

Hamas’s political leadership has spent the past 10 years attempting to prove that the movement was more than a narrowly conceived paramilitary organization. By 2017, its military wing, which took control of the organization with the rise of Yahya Sinwar in the last internal elections in February, had concluded that the attempt to expand Hamas’s agenda and vision beyond the narrow confines of its guerrilla war against Israel had become a trap, a distraction. It saddled the organization with the thankless monotonies and shackling responsibilities of civilian leadership. It was suddenly in charge of the economic wellbeing, health, education and safety of millions — and for what?

A Palestinian man blows fire as Gazans gather at an intersection to celebrate the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, on August 26, 2014, in Gaza City. (AFP/Roberto Schmidt)

And so both sides in the reconciliation deal believe they are gaining something important. Fatah restores some of its lost privileges and powers after 10 long years of embarrassment in Gaza. Hamas sheds the distracting albatross of civilian rule that so diminished its standing and, many feel, set it up for failure.

Misunderstandings

Abbas’s predecessor, former Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority founder Yasser Arafat, passed away in 2004 having watched his efforts come to ignominious failure. His PA all but crushed, and with much of the post-9/11 West, usually so sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, exasperated at the Palestinian resort to the mass-killing of Israeli civilians, Arafat’s bitter end led to a reexamination of his fundamental strategy by the Palestinian elite.

US President George W. Bush listening to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, left, speaking at a joint news conference following their talks about the Middle East peace process at Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, April 11, 2005. (J. Scott Applewhite /AP Images/JTA)

By the time of Arafat’s death, the man who had destroyed him, who had humiliated him by demolishing part of his Muqata headquarters building in Ramallah with him inside, who had sent Israeli forces marching into Palestinian population centers with one purpose: to capture and dismantle the terror groups and end the wave of suicide bombings detonating in Israeli cities – that man, Ariel Sharon, had become the most popular Israeli leader in decades. Sharon attained that popularity through a simple expedient: amid a wave of detonating pizzerias and mass-murders of Israeli children, he ended the decade-old experiment of negotiating with Palestinian leaders on the assumption that they were capable or willing to offer peace.

Arafat’s failure, and Sharon’s parallel success, drove home something important about the nature of that failure. It was in large part a failure to understand Israelis.

Arafat spent those final years of his life apparently believing that the relentless campaign of bombings and shootings that began in 2000 would convince the Israelis that the Palestinian spirit was indomitable and ultimately irresistible, that they could never be safe in this land and so, eventually, were destined to lose the long war between the two peoples.

A Palestinian woman walks past a portrait of Yasser Arafat at the start of celebrations marking the 13th anniversary of his death, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on November 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

But Israelis drew the opposite lesson from that experience: according to countless and exhaustive polls, most Israelis concluded from that violence that Palestinian politics could not resist the temptation to transform any gains at the negotiating table into a staging ground for violent jihad against Israeli civilians. Palestinian demands were thus unfulfillable, because they did not end at the Green Line. It did not matter if one found a Palestinian moderate and began negotiating with him. There would always be Arafats, Marwan Barghoutis and Yahya Sinwars in the wings preparing to turn any peace gains into further and deadlier war.

Most Israelis came to believe, in other words, that Palestinian violence was not susceptible to policy or concession, that there was nothing they could afford to give to the Palestinians that would end it — and that therefore it was up to the Israelis themselves to take the necessary steps to crush the Palestinian capacity for violence.

The point here is not to argue that this mainstream Israeli belief is correct. Palestinian society and politics are complex, and Palestinian attitudes have themselves changed over the years. Whether this Israeli view is objectively true is a judgment call, one usually made with insufficient evidence either way. The point here is simply to note that this is what mainstream Israelis have come to believe about the Palestinians — and that this belief carries strategic implications for the Palestinian future.

The Palestinians have yet to recover from Arafat’s miscalculation about Israeli psychology, his misreading of how Israelis would respond to the terrorism of the Second Intifada. They have yet to regain the economic integration and political potential that once drove the Palestinian economy and thrust its cause upon the world stage.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at a peace conference in Washington, D.C. on September 2, 2010. (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left), and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet at a peace conference in Washington, DC, on September 2, 2010. (Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)

Yet, ironically, it was in the 13 years since Arafat’s death, under the less-than-inspiring, less-than-competent rule of his heir Mahmoud Abbas, that the Palestinians engaged in an even more fundamental miscalculation. Arafat misunderstood the Israelis. Abbas misunderstands the Palestinians.

Abbas has spent most of the years since 2004, the year when Arafat’s strategy of violence might be said to have begun its long, slow, comprehensive collapse, pursuing the alternative policy he had long championed: replacing Palestinian terrorism with internationalism, replacing a type of pressure that cost Palestine its allies and any gains it had made under the Oslo process with a different sort of pressure geared toward restoring those allies and augmenting those gains.

His policy, in short: to throw the Palestinian cause at the feet of the world.

But Abbas’s internationalization strategy rests on two unexamined assumptions. First, that the Israeli resistance to withdrawing from the West Bank is a relatively weak sentiment, weak enough to be swayed by international opprobrium or sanctions; second, and despite all evidence to the contrary, that his fellow Palestinians would play along with the strategy.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, September 20, 2017, in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

Abbas grasps that the two Palestinian strategies — violence and internationalization — counteract each other: that terrorism bolsters Israeli resistance to withdrawal, and so fatally undermines the capacity of international pressure to deliver results. Yet this understanding has only ever expressed itself at the tactical level. Abbas’s security services have spent much of the past 10 years cracking down on Palestinian terror groups in areas controlled by the PA.

Abbas’s problem, however, extends far beyond the piecemeal challenge of preventing the occasional act of violence. Among Palestinians, the violent “resistance” is no mere tactic employed by a small handful of violent extremists. It is a fundamental pillar of their narrative of national liberation, a vehicle for reclaiming the dignity lost by their history of dispossession, a crucible that for many lends the sheen of redemptive theology to their long suffering.

This vision of a violent reclamation of national honor is reified in Hamas, funded by cash from Qatar, Iran and elsewhere, and sustained by the religious leadership of Palestinian society in most Palestinian towns and villages. Indeed, it often seems to be the only narrative left standing that still teaches Palestinians that they have agency in deciding their fate, or that victory against immovable Israel is even possible.

After Arafat’s death, Abbas turned away from the tactic of terrorism, but never seems to have given serious thought to the strategic problem posed by the reservoirs of ideology and identity that still lionize that violence in the Palestinian body politic.

Palestinian supporters of Fatah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (portrait) gather in Gaza City as Abbas addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 20, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

In the end, Abbas lives in a kind of ideological purgatory. He cannot pursue the violent strategy he has watched fail so spectacularly, nor can he acknowledge the flaw at the heart of his diplomatic strategy — the sad fact that Israelis who could not be frightened off by waves of suicide terrorism are not likely to be dislodged by waves of international tut-tutting. Worse, the trap is permanent. Israeli recalcitrance is shored up against foreign pressure by the very expectation of more waves of terrorism. The one Palestinian strategy fatally undermines the other.

And so he is left trying to sell Palestinians on the shallowest of the strategic visions available to them, and they know it. (A recent poll found that 67 percent of Palestinians want him to resign, a result that surprised no one.) Salvation will come from New York and Geneva, he insists, even as Israelis remain distinctly unimpressed by his international efforts. And the longer salvation is delayed, the more he is identified with yet another drawn-out failure of the Palestinian national movement.

Albatrosses

In the unity deal struck between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority last month, Abbas effectively swallowed into his PA, into his vehicle for restoring Palestinian dignity by — not to put too fine a point on it — ignoring the causes of Palestinian self-defeat, the very architects of that defeat, the party most responsible for the hardening of Israeli politics against Palestinian aspirations.

And, as might be expected, he has done so without any capacity to control what Hamas does or says in Palestine’s name. Hamas, after all, seems eager to surrender every instrument of sovereignty it possesses in Gaza – except the one that matters: its armed wing will remain intact, and under its control.

This was not Hamas’s “red line,” as some commentators suggested, implying that Hamas was being magnanimous with its other concessions. It was the original point and purpose of the entire exercise of reconciliation. Hamas could not give up its military wing because it was in the process of becoming its military wing, shorn of the extranea of civil politics.

The leader of the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, waves as he arrives for a meeting with the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister and other officials in Gaza City on October 2, 2017. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

It is no accident that in the delicate days leading up to the November 1 transfer of Gaza’s border crossings to the PA, Hamas leaders took painstaking care to assure their Fatah counterparts that, more than anything else, they should not fear the continued existence of a separate Hamas military.

The nation is “still in the throes of our national liberation efforts,” and therefore “we cannot surrender our weapons,” Sinwar himself said on October 25. But, he assured, “our weapons must be under the umbrella of the [Fatah-dominated] Palestine Liberation Organization.”

“The weapons of the Qassam Brigades [Hamas’s military wing] belong to the Palestinian people,” he added for good measure. They were meant “to be used for the liberation effort, and not for internal conflict.”

Those words, meant to soothe the nerves of Fatah officials who understand how small is their victory if Hamas retains its 25,000-strong military, were a signal of the tension within Fatah over the reconciliation. Indeed, just a week earlier, Sinwar was decidedly less magnanimous: “Disarming us,” he quipped, “is like Satan dreaming of heaven. No one can take away our weapons.”

Fatah leaders are not stupid; they understand that their retaking of Gaza is coming at the cost of liberating Hamas from its civilian responsibilities and freeing it to better lead the military side of the Palestinian agenda. They are worried.

Some analysts have suggested that Hamas will still be able to play “spoiler” to any peace initiative. This is true, of course, but it was also true before the reconciliation.

Members of Hamas’s military branches take part in a military parade in Gaza City on July 26, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

What worries Fatah is not Hamas’s ability to spoil peace talks. Hamas has won something more important in Palestinian terms. By granting it a reprieve from its civilian rule in Gaza, and thus unshackling it from responsibility for the consequences of its narrative, Abbas has ensured that no matter what he says or does, it is Hamas and its ilk, the proponents of sacred, violent resistance, who will tell his story. They are now the emancipated bearers of the only Palestinian narrative actively being told in Palestine, a narrative whose basic tenets Abbas has not even attempted to challenge.

Abbas’s entire vision and legacy now lie at Hamas’s feet. He can never crush them enough, nor suppress their narrative about Palestinian resistance sufficiently — in part because he believes much of it himself — to win the war of ideas. He has now backed himself into the unenviable corner of trying to push ahead with his internationalization strategy while an unfettered Hamas operates without the slightest check to undermine him.

And he did it to himself, all for the paltry benefit of restoring the lost dignity of Fatah’s 2007 collapse in Gaza.

Hamas’s leaders are surely breathing easier now that the responsibility for Gaza’s desolation is being lifted from their shoulders. But for them, too, the reconciliation comes at a vast price. Hamas has effectively acknowledged that it is unable to steer the territory under its control to freedom and prosperity. The hard-bitten tacticians of its military wing may scoff at such considerations, but that doesn’t make them unimportant. In its abdication of civil leadership, Hamas reveals its own underlying strategic weakness, a weakness it shares with its new ally Hezbollah. Both groups are powerful enough to drag their nations into war, but not ideologically flexible or curious enough to be the bearers of better days.

Hamas has acknowledged that it cannot build a Palestine where Israel has withdrawn. It no longer even wants to.

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PA police chief: Hamas must disarm under unity deal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

PA police chief: Hamas must disarm under unity deal

Hazem Atallah’s comments came as cracks begin to show in reconciliation efforts between Fatah and the Gaza-based terror group

Major General Hazem Atallah (C), the head of the Palestinian police in the West Bank, speaks with journalists following a press conference in Ramallah on November 8, 2017. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

Major General Hazem Atallah (C), the head of the Palestinian police in the West Bank, speaks with journalists following a press conference in Ramallah on November 8, 2017. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

The head of the Palestinian Authority police said Wednesday that Hamas must disarm in order for a landmark reconciliation deal signed last month with rival Fatah to succeed.

Hazem Atallah’s comments came as cracks began to show in the Palestinian reconciliation deal mediated by Egypt over the issue of security control of the Gaza Strip.

The PA is due to retake control of the Strip, still run by the Hamas terror group, by December 1.

“We are talking about one authority, one law, one gun,” Atallah told journalists in Ramallah in the West Bank, echoing a line from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Asked whether he could allow Hamas’s armed wing to maintain its weapons while being in charge of police in Gaza, he said: “No way.”

Major General Hazem Attallah (C), the head of the Palestinian police in the occupied West Bank, speaks with journalists following a press conference in Ramallah on November 8, 2017. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

“It is impossible. How can I do security when there are all these rockets and guns and whatever? Is this possible? It doesn’t work.

“Otherwise how can I be in charge? Who is going to be standing and saying ‘I am the chief of police, I am in charge,’ if I am not controlling everything?”

He said the 8,000-9,000 Palestinian police who worked in Gaza before Hamas took over in 2007 would return to their posts, rejecting the idea of merging with the existing Hamas-led police.

This, he added, would need major financial support as the police’s budget would effectively double.

Hamas seized Gaza in 2007 following a near civil war with Fatah, which currently dominates the PA.

Last month the two parties signed an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement under which Hamas is meant to hand over control of Gaza by December 1.

The agreement signed in Cairo does not specify the future for Hamas’s vast armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades. Hamas has made clear it is not prepared to disarm.

On November 1, Hamas handed over control of border crossings in a first key test.

But in a sign of tension, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Tuesday the PA still did not have full control of the crossings, with Hamas dominating the police and security inside Gaza.

Hamas rejected that, with a statement saying it had fully transferred power.

Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union, publicly seeks the destruction of Israel and has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008.

Israel has maintained a blockade on Gaza for a decade in order to prevent the import of weapons, while Egypt has also kept its border largely closed in recent years.

Multiple previous reconciliation attempts have failed.

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Iran: (Demonic Hypocritical) Iran blasts ‘bloodthirsty’ Israel after terror tunnel destroyed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Iran blasts ‘bloodthirsty’ Israel after terror tunnel destroyed

Tehran accuses Jewish state of ‘seven decades of crimes, bloodshed and child-killing’ against the Palestinians

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (center right) meets with senior Hamas officials in Tehran on August 7, 2017. (screen capture)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (center right) meets with senior Hamas officials in Tehran on August 7, 2017. (screen capture)

Iran on Monday condemned Israel as “bloodthirsty” after the Israel Defense Forces blew up an attack tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, killing seven people, including two commanders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.

“The bloodthirsty Zionist regime is trying to bend the will of the oppressed people of the occupied territories to guarantee its security by killing Palestinian youths,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qassemi said, according to the Iranian Tasnim news agency.

“This is while seven decades of crimes, bloodshed and child-killing could not weaken the determination of this patient and courageous people at all,” he added.

The IDF on Monday said it “neutralized a terror tunnel” that was discovered inside Israeli territory near the Gaza Strip and is believed to have been dug after 2014. The tunnel was being built by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.

The blast killed at least five members of Islamic Jihad’s military wing, including a senior commander and his deputy, and two members of Hamas’s military wing died in rescue efforts. At least 12 others were injured, Gaza’s health ministry said. Many reports said the terrorists were killed inside the tunnel, though this was not definitively clear.

The statement from Iran came days after a Hamas delegation visited Tehran and officials in the Iranian regime praised the Gaza rulers for not abandoning its armed struggle against Israel.

The IDF said the tunnel was “detonated from within Israel, adjacent to the security fence.”

Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah earlier on Monday accused Israel of trying to foil ongoing unity efforts between them in destroying the tunnel.

In a statement, Hamas called the Israeli measure “a desperate attempt to sabotage efforts to restore Palestinian unity and maintain the state of division.”

The body of Palestinian Marwan Alagha,22, is carried by mourners after he was killed when Israel blew up what it said was a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into its territory, at Naser hospital in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on October 30, 2017. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Earlier this month, the two factions signed an agreement in Cairo allowing for the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority to resume control of Gaza — which Hamas seized in a near civil war with Fatah in 2007 — by December 1.

Fatah spokesperson and vice-chairman of the party’s revolutionary council Fayez Abu Eita echoed Hamas’s sentiment that the move by the Israeli army to detonate the tunnel in Gaza was aimed at disrupting the unity talks.

“This crime comes in the context of [sowing confusion] and creating tension in the atmosphere in order to thwart the Palestinian national reconciliation,” he said, in a statement carried in the official PA news outlet Wafa.

Abu Eita said that despite the incident, the Palestinians would push ahead with the unity plan.

“The one who is most harmed by Palestinian national reconciliation is the occupation. The implementation of the reconciliation agreement is the optimal response to this crime,” he said.

The incident raised tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, with both Hamas and Islamic Jihad vowing revenge.

Israel deployed its Iron Dome anti-missile system in the area and declared the border region a closed military zone.

“The explosion took place inside Israeli territory. The majority of the dead were activists that entered the tunnel after it was exploded and died in the Gaza Strip, and not as a result of the explosion,” said IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee.

“We are not interested in an escalation, but we are ready for all scenarios,” he said.

The IDF said the tunnel ran from the Gazan city of Khan Younis, crossed under the border, and approached the Israeli community of Kibbutz Kissufim.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman hailed the IDF for destroying the attack tunnel, with the two leaders attributing its discovery to Israel’s new “breakthrough technology.”

The prime minister said Israel holds Hamas responsible for all military action against Israel emanating from the Gaza Strip and “whoever hurts us, we hurt them.”

Israeli soldiers patrol close to the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip on October 30, 2017, near Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel. (AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA)

Despite an assassination attempt on Hamas’s internal security chief Tawfiq Abu Naim on Friday, blamed variously on Israel and Islamic State, the terror group says it will continue to abide by the Cairo agreement and hand over control of Gaza’s border crossing to the PA on Wednesday.

The fate of the Hamas security forces after it transfers power to the PA in the territory is one of the most delicate issues facing the reconciliation process.

Abbas wants the handover to be comprehensive and include all security institutions, but the Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, has said “no one” can force his group to disarm.

Israel and the United States have meanwhile said that Hamas must disarm as part of any unity government.

They have also said it must recognize Israel and sever ties with Iran.

The Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organization has recognized Israel, but Hamas, an Islamist terror group which seeks Israel’s destruction, has not. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report. 

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