Seeking safety from terror and extremism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Seeking safety from terror and extremism: 7 things to know for March 18

A West Bank attack has people on edge and asking questions, while judges’ ban on a Kahanist from the Knesset is praised as saving democracy or panned as a death knell for the court

Israeli security forces at the scene where a Palestinian carried out a deadly attack near Gitai-Avishar junction, March 17, 2019. (Flash90)

Israeli security forces at the scene where a Palestinian carried out a deadly attack near Gitai-Avishar junction, March 17, 2019. (Flash90)

1. Killer on the loose: A manhunt is ongoing Monday morning for a Palestinian suspected of killing a soldier, stealing his gun and opening fire on others in the area before fleeing to a nearby village.

  • Soldier Gal Keidan is killed at the scene and Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, a father of 12, also succumbs to his wounds Monday.
  • According to Ettinger’s siblings, even after he was shot he managed to fire at the terrorist, though he did not hit him.
  • “He turned his car around to face him and managed to aim his weapon and get off four shots,” the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reports.
  • On Monday morning, Israeli media reports that the suspect is Omar Abu Laila, 18, from the town of az-Zawiya, and Israeli forces who raided the town overnight arrested his father and brother.
  • The reports are attributed to Palestinian media, though most Palestinian media reports attribute the information to the Israeli army.
  • The Shin Bet later confirms his identity.

2. Powderkegger: Much of the coverage of the attack revolves around the time-honored tradition of asking “Are we in an intifada yet (or at least uptick of violence)?”

  • The resounding answer from the pundit class? It certainly looks like we are heading that way.
  • The attack demonstrates that the Palestinian front is as heated up as ever,” Amos Harel writes in Haaretz. “The escalation is already here; only its final dimensions and political impact have yet to be determined.”
  • “The motivation of the terror groups, lone terrorists, or independent cells to perpetrate attacks in the West Bank is increasing,” ToI’s Avi Issacharoff writes, blaming at least part of the increased tensions on “Hamas’s desire to set the territory ablaze.”
  • Israel Hayom’s Nadav Shragai writes that terrorists don’t need an excuse to carry out attacks, but various factors have made it so inciters are “‘enjoying’ a period where it is especially ‘comfortable’ for them” from tensions over the Temple Mount, to financial crises in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • The New York Times cites unnamed analysts who say domestic pressures against the terror group ruling Gaza “might well make Hamas all the more eager to redirect the public’s anger toward Israel.”

3. Operational failures: In Yedioth Ahronoth, Yossi Yehoshua says the ability of the attacker to kill a soldier, steal his gun and get away, while other troops were nearby, points to serious failures.

  • “This seems to be an operational failure that is unthinkable after the events of the last months,” he writes, referring to other recent cases in which IDF terrorists managed to get away and avoid detection for weeks or more.
  • Yoav Limor writes in Israel Hayom that the soldiers’ readiness was “lacking.” “Had they reacted like they should have, he would have been neutralized on the spot and could not have continued his shooting spree,” he writes. “The IDF needs to check how fit the soldiers situated along the main roads and junctions are and if their abilities match the threats they are exposed to, and if their armor is enough.”

4. Defending democracy: Not surprisingly, where papers stand on the disqualification of Michael Ben Ari of Otzma Yehudit depends mostly on their politics, though everyone tries to dress up their positions as a defense of democracy.

  • “The Supreme Court decided Sunday that to prevent a slide from insane talk to insane acts, it first had to deny the legitimacy of the hateful words in a clear and unequivocal way,” Odeh Bisharat writes in Haaretz, predicting that letting Ben Ari run could lead to a New Zealand-style massacre.
  • Ben-Dror Yemini criticizes the decision in Yedioth, but only because the judges didn’t also disqualify the Ballad party and Hadash candidate Ofer Kassif, which he calls a “loss for democracy” that will only “increase extremism” in the Knesset.
  • In Haaretz, respected jurist Mordechai Kremnitzer writes a stirring defense of the court’s decision to allow every other candidate to run, but says Ben Ari is different.
  • “Studying the things he has said, as the attorney general did, revealed incitement to racism of the most disgusting, dangerous kind,” he writes. “This is indeed the type of extreme case that makes the disqualification inevitable.”

5. Backing Ben Ari: On the other side, Amnon Lord writes in Israel Hayom that even though he doesn’t agree with Ben Ari’s views, “there was no real reason to disqualify him, beyond aesthetics.”

  • Shlomo Pyoterofsky writes in Yedioth’s op-ed page that the court has “lost the public’s trust” by deciding to apply the law selectively.
  • “Trust in the professionalism and objectivity of the judges has been cracked, if not totally disappeared,” he writes.

6. Good for the right? Otzma Yehudit has fumed over the decision and demanded Jewish Home renegotiate their deal and move Itamar Ben Gvir, who is still allowed to run, into Ben Ari’s No. 5 slot, something that’s not allowed.

  • The Srugim national-religious news site reports that it’s so bad that Baruch Marzel, another Kahanist from Otzma Yehudit, is threatening to vote against the joint right-wing list that he is on.
  • But in Walla, Yakir Adamkar notes that getting Ben Ari disqualified will actually help the far-right ticket by giving it another enemy — the court — to rail against.
  • “From here out, they will campaign on the slogan ‘the judges won’t decide for the people who they will vote for, the people will decide,” he predicts.
  • Makor Rishon’s Shirit Avitan Cohen writes that problems with the party go even deeper, with some doubting Rafi Peretz’s leadership ability and “vociferous fights” over whether the party should campaign directly against New Right.

7. More than a tweet: Ilhan Omar doesn’t have to worry about getting kicked out of Congress for her words, but she still appears to be making an effort to get back into the Democratic party’s good graces.

  • An op-ed by Omar in the Washington Post, which she says is needed to explain her foreign policy outlook, doesn’t address the accusations against her of using anti-Semitic tropes. Rather it slickly expounds on her support for a two-state solution, and various other mainline talking points.
  • “My goal in speaking out at all times has been to encourage both sides to move toward a peaceful two-state solution. We need to reinsert this call back into the public debate with urgency. Both parties must come to the table for a final peace deal; violence will not bring us any closer to that day,” she writes innocently.
  • Mark Dubowitz of the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracy is one person not buying it, writing on Twitter that it seems like it came from a crisis communications firm.

Mark Dubowitz

@mdubowitz

When I was throwing out those anti-Semitic bombs, all I really wanted was a more “inclusive foreign policy.” This reads like an oped written by a crisis communications firm for one of their so misunderstood clients.

Washington Post Opinions

@PostOpinions

An op-ed from @IlhanMN:

I’ve seen firsthand the devastating toll of war. We need an inclusive foreign policy. https://wapo.st/2TWdW20 

View image on Twitter
244 people are talking about this
READ MORE:

US official says top Hezbollah brass hit in alleged Israeli strikes in Syria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

US official says top Hezbollah brass hit in alleged Israeli strikes in Syria

Defense Department source tells Newsweek commanders were targeted after boarding a plane bound for Iran; advanced weaponry also destroyed

A screenshot from video on social media purporting to show airstrikes near Damascus on December 25, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)

A screenshot from video on social media purporting to show airstrikes near Damascus on December 25, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)

An alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria Tuesday night hit several senior Hezbollah officials as they boarded a plane bound for Iran, Newsweek reported Wednesday morning, citing a Defense Department source.

The unnamed source told the magazine he had received the information from top Israeli military brass.

He said strategic Iranian munitions were also targeted, including advanced GPS components for weaponry.

Syrian state media said the strikes, beginning at about 10 p.m., were carried out from Lebanon and that a number of targets were intercepted. It said its own air defenses had opened fire on “enemy targets,” shooting them down.

Syrian TV quoted a military source saying weapons warehouses were hit, and three Syrian soldiers wounded.

A screenshot from video purporting to show a Syrian surface-to-air missile being fired near Damascus on December 25, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Syrian media said Wednesday morning that Israel hit a base used by Hezbollah in Al-Dimas, a weapons depot at a base belonging to the Syrian army’s 4th division in Sabura and the military’s 10th Division command in Qatana.

Additionally, Syrian air defenses in Attal and the 68th Brigade and 137th Battalion in Khan-al-Sheikh were also reportedly attacked, Hadashot reported.

Israel said it had deployed air defenses against a missile fired from Syria as Damascus attempted to repel the alleged airstrikes.

The Israel Defense Forces said there was no damage or injuries from the surface-to-air missile fired from Syria at Israel.

“An IDF aerial defense system activated in response to an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria,” the army said in a statement.

It did not say where or even if the missile was successfully intercepted.

Pictures shared on social media showed an air defense missile being fired near Hadera, a city some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the Syrian border where residents had earlier reported hearing a loud explosion.

Embedded video

Observer IL – 🅾️🅱️🔺@Obs_IL

Dashcam footage from Road 6 of the launch of an AD missile earlier near following this evening airstrikes in . @Intel_sky @IsraelD_Heb @edrormba @BabakTaghvaee @Dannymakkisyria @IntelCrab @IdeologyWars @TheWarOfNow @intellipus

23 people are talking about this

Syrian eyewitnesses and video on social media showed what appeared to be intense fire on targets near the capital.

Embedded video

Zaid Benjamin@zaidbenjamin

Syrian News Agency says the “Aggression on ” continues “from the Lebanese airspace” and air defenses are responding.

20 people are talking about this

“It’s an Israeli raid,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

“Missiles fired from Israeli planes targeted… arms depots southwest and south of Damascus that belong to Hezbollah or Iranian forces,” Abdel Rahman said.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that Israel Air Force planes were operating over southern Lebanon.

Qalaat Al Mudiq@QalaatAlMudiq

: explosions heard over province. Air defenses fired missiles moments ago.

View image on Twitter

Qalaat Al Mudiq@QalaatAlMudiq

. Air defenses in action tonight over W. province. pic.twitter.com/xrYqMYX1E1

Embedded video

57 people are talking about this

News reports made a connection between the strike and the earlier arrival of an Iranian cargo jet in Damascus. The 747, belonging to Iran’s Fars Air Qeshm, had landed in Syria just after 7 p.m.

The civilian company has been accused on multiple occasions of smuggling Iranian arms to Hezbollah, and media speculated that its cargo had been the target of the strikes.

It was not clear whether the jet was the one which Hezbollah officials had allegedly boarded.

Israel in recent years has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against targets linked to Iran, which alongside its proxies and Russia is fighting on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israel has accused Iran of seeking to establish a military presence in Syria that could threaten Israeli security and attempting to transfer advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

The number of airstrikes in Syria attributed to Israel has dropped noticeably in recent months, after a Russian military plane was downed by Syrian air defenses during an Israeli attack on Latakia, killing all 15 servicemen aboard.

Russia blamed the Israeli military for that incident — a charge rejected by Jerusalem — and has supplied Syria with the advanced S-300 air defense system.

The S-300 systems were delivered to Syria last month, but they are not yet believed to be in use, as the Syrian air defense teams still need to be trained to operate them.

Israeli defense officials have met with Russian counterparts a number of times in recent weeks in an effort to re-establish a deconfliction mechanism that will allow Israel to recommence its air campaign.

Russia reportedly wants significant warning period ahead of any Israeli airstrike, something Israeli officials have been said to refuse.

READ MORE:

Israel fires at missile from Syria; IDF jets said to pound Damascus arms depots

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

(Peace, no peace, ever, there is to much inbred hate and distrust on all three sides, Sunni, Shiite and Judaism,  but thats just my thought on this issue.) (oldpoet56)  

Israel fires at missile from Syria; IDF jets said to pound Damascus arms depots

No injuries or damage in Israel; Israeli planes said to be behind attack near Syrian capital against Hezbollah or Iranian depot; Damascus claims to shoot down ‘enemy targets’

A screenshot from video purporting to show a Syrian surface-to-air missile being fired near Damascus on December 25, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

A screenshot from video purporting to show a Syrian surface-to-air missile being fired near Damascus on December 25, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Israel said Tuesday night it had deployed its air defenses against a missile shot from Syria as Damascus attempted to repel an alleged Israeli airstrike against Hezbollah or Iranian targets near the capital.

The Israel Defense Forces said there was no damage or injuries from the surface-to-air missile fired from Syria at Israel.

“An IDF aerial defense system activated in response to an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria,” the army said in a statement.

It did not say where or even if the missile was successfully intercepted.

Pictures shared on social media showed an air defense missile being fired near Hadera, a city some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the Syrian border where residents had earlier reported hearing a loud explosion.

Embedded video

Observer IL – 🅾️🅱️🔺@Obs_IL

Dashcam footage from Road 6 of the launch of an AD missile earlier near following this evening airstrikes in . @Intel_sky @IsraelD_Heb @edrormba @BabakTaghvaee @Dannymakkisyria @IntelCrab @IdeologyWars @TheWarOfNow @intellipus

23 people are talking about this

Syrian state media said its own air defenses had opened fire on “enemy targets,” shooting them down, in what was reported to be an Israeli airstrike.

Syrian eyewitnesses and video on social media showed what appeared to be intense fire on targets near the capital.

Embedded video

Zaid Benjamin@zaidbenjamin

Syrian News Agency says the “Aggression on ” continues “from the Lebanese airspace” and air defenses are responding.

20 people are talking about this

SANA said the strikes beginning at about 10 p.m. were carried out from Lebanon and that a number of targets were intercepted.

“It’s an Israeli raid,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

“Missiles fired from Israeli planes targeted… arms depots southwest and south of Damascus that belong to Hezbollah or Iranian forces,” Abdel Rahman said.

Syrian TV quoted a military source saying weapons warehouses were hit, and three Syrian soldiers wounded.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that Israel Air Force planes were operating over southern Lebanon.

Qalaat Al Mudiq@QalaatAlMudiq

: explosions heard over province. Air defenses fired missiles moments ago.

View image on Twitter

Qalaat Al Mudiq@QalaatAlMudiq

. Air defenses in action tonight over W. province. pic.twitter.com/xrYqMYX1E1

Embedded video

57 people are talking about this

News reports tied between the strike and the earlier arrival of an Iranian cargo jet in Damascus. The 747, belonging to Iran’s Fars Air Qeshm, had landed in Syria just after 7 p.m.

The civilian company has been accused on multiple occasions of smuggling Iranian arms to Hezbollah.

By midnight the flight was en route back to Iran.

Israel in recent years has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against targets linked to Iran, which alongside its proxies and Russia is fighting on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israel has accused Iran of seeking to establish a military presence in Syria that could threaten Israeli security and attempting to transfer advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

In this August 27, 2013, photo, a Russian air defense system missile system Antey 2500, or S-300 VM, is on display at the opening of the MAKS Air Show in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, file)

The number of airstrikes in Syria attributed to Israel has dropped noticeably in recent months, after a Russian military plane was downed by Syrian air defenses during an Israeli attack on Latakia, killing all 15 servicemen aboard.

Russia blamed the Israeli military for that incident — a charge rejected by Jerusalem — and has supplied Syria with the advanced S-300 air defense system.

The S-300 systems were delivered to Syria last month, but they are not yet believed to be in use, as the Syrian air defense teams still need to be trained to operate them.

Israeli defense officials have met with Russian counterparts a number of times in recent weeks in an effort to re-establish a deconfliction mechanism that will allow Israel to recommence its air campaign.

Russia reportedly wants significant warning period ahead of any Israeli airstrike, something Israeli officials have been said to refuse.

READ MORE:

IDF Soldier Seriously Injured In Another Terrorist Attack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

Palestinian seriously wounds soldier in West Bank attack before fleeing Army launches search for assailant near Beit El settlement, says serviceman taken to hospital with stab wounds, severe head injury By JUDAH ARI GROSS and TOI STAFF Today, 10:02 am 5 593 shares Illustrative: Israeli soldiers guard the scene of a terrorist shooting attack near Givat Assaf, in the central West Bank, on December 13, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90) Illustrative: Israeli soldiers guard the scene of a terrorist shooting attack near Givat Assaf, in the central West Bank, on December 13, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90) A Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli soldier and bashed his head with a rock, seriously injuring him, at a military post outside the Beit El settlement in the central West Bank on Friday, the army said. The assailant then fled the scene, prompting a manhunt. The Israel Defense Forces said a fight broke out between the two after the Palestinian attacker broke into the military position near Beit El, outside Ramallah, where Israeli forces have been searching for the terrorist who committed a shooting attack on Thursday, killing two soldiers and seriously injuring a third serviceman and a civilian woman. Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories FREE SIGN UP “During [the fight], a terrorist struck the soldier with a rock from a short range,” the army said. The military later added that further investigation revealed that the assailant had stabbed the soldier as well. According to the IDF, the assailant was also injured in the attack, though it was not immedately clear to what degree. “The investigation is continuing,” the army said. The 21-year-old soldier was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in serious condition. The serviceman was unconscious and hooked up to a ventilator. Doctors said he was in life-threatening condition. Troops launched searches in the area to find the attacker. Embedded video חדשות עשר ✔ @news10 אירוע חמור ליד בית אל: מחבל חדר, השליך אבנים – ופצע חייל קשה • @OrHeller עם הידיעה המלאה >> https://www.10.tv/news/178301 3:04 AM – Dec 14, 2018 See חדשות עשר’s other Tweets Twitter Ads info and privacy The attack took place close to the site of Thursday’s deadly terror shooting, at a bus stop near the Givat Assaf outpost. The soldier who was injured in the shooting attack remained in critical condition Friday, while doctors said the condition of the woman who was seriously wounded had improved. The Israeli military launched a manhunt in the Ramallah area for the terrorists and sent additional forces to the West Bank to assist in the search, as well as to boost security near settlements and roads. During overnight raids, soldiers arrested 40 Palestinians throughout the West Bank who were suspected of involvement in terror and rioting, 37 of whom the Israel Defense Forces said were known Hamas operatives. Thursday’s attack came on the heels of a shooting Sunday by Palestinian terrorists outside the Ofra settlement, in which seven Israelis were injured. Among the wounded was a pregnant woman whose baby died after being delivered prematurely. A senior IDF commander indicated the same Hamas terror cell carried out the two drive-by shooting attacks, which occurred along the same highway. Israeli soldiers, medical officials and police inspect the scene of a terrorist shooting attack near Givat Assaf, in the central West Bank, on December 13, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90) Additionally, a Palestinian stabbed two Border Police officers in Jerusalem’s Old City early Thursday before being shot dead. Late Wednesday night, Israeli security forces conducted a series of raids in the Ramallah area to find the terrorists responsible for Sunday’s shooting. At least four suspects were arrested and one, Salih Omar Barghouti, 29, was shot dead after troops said he tried to attack them while attempting to escape in the village of Kobar, outside Ramallah. Hamas later claimed Barghouti as a member. Hours after the Givat Assaf shooting attack, the army said a Palestinian man attempted to ram his car into a group of soldiers who were taking part in the effort to find the gunman outside the town of el-Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah. The troops opened fire, killing the man, later identified by Palestinian officials as Hamdan al-Arda. One soldier was lightly injured. The Palestinian man’s family denied the army’s claims, saying it was not an attack, but rather a traffic accident. Arda, a 56-year-old aluminum factory owner, was hard of hearing, his relatives told the Haaretz daily. Separately, Israeli troops located a terrorist who killed two Israelis in October at the Barkan industrial zone after a two-month manhunt. The suspect was killed in a shootout with troops overnight Wednesday-Thursday. There has been an increase in the number of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers in recent weeks, after months of relative calm in the area, raising concerns of a potential renewed outbreak of regular, serious violence in the region. READ MORE: Israel & the Region IDF Israel Defense Forces West Bank Beit El 593 shares COMMENTS ISRAEL MEDIA REVIEW The coming storm: 8 things to know for December 14 Thursday’s deadly attack in the West Bank underlines warnings about the flammability of the West Bank, but responses don’t come without controversy By JOSHUA DAVIDOVICH Today, 9:51 am 0 19 shares Road blocks in the West Bank following a terror attack where two Israeli soldiers were shot by Palestinian terrorists, and two more seriously injured, December 13, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/FLASH90) Road blocks in the West Bank following a terror attack where two Israeli soldiers were shot by Palestinian terrorists, and two more seriously injured, December 13, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/FLASH90) 1. Headed for an explosion? Is Israel on the cusp of another inexorable slide into violence with the Palestinians, this time in the West Bank? That’s the question on many people’s minds the day after a shooting near Ramallah left two soldiers dead and another fighting for his life. Unlike the 2015 so-called lone-wolf intifada, there is a sense (likely filtering from the IDF down to the loyal army of military correspondents) that what is happening in the West Bank is different. Top down rather than grassroots, and the work of cells rather than solitary assailants operating on impulse. That’s thanks to an army assessment that thinks there may be a connection between the group who carried out the attack outside the Ofra settlement and those involved with the shooting attack outside the Givat Asaf outpost. Analyst Yossi Yehoshua in Yedioth Ahronoth calls the “wave” (his word), “the realization of warnings from the military to government, which alerted them over fears of an increase in violence if the political stalemate with the Palestinians continues.” (Such a warning is a near-constant fixture of army assessments, often because it’s true, but also because nobody wants to be the officer who said everything is swell right before a fresh outbreak of violence.) “It’s hard to be surprised by the wave of terror this week in the West Bank,” Israel Hayom’s Yoav Limor writes. “Anyone who has followed the statistics over the last months has seen a clear trend: attempts to carry out attacks were on a constant upswing, and only operations by the Shin Bet and IDF have prevented a mass of casualties until now.” Haaretz’s Amos Harel notes that an officer giving a briefing Thursday appeared uncharacteristically shaken, giving the impression that the West Bank is facing another wave of violence. “The ability to stop this trend in the coming days, before it spreads, depends mainly on the forces in the field – on whether a wave of copy-cat attacks will translate into another success for terror,” he writes. 2. Collective punishment on the table: During the last wave of violence, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (and later Avigdor Liberman) was praised for making efforts to keep collective punishment against the Palestinians to a minimum. It seems however that Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be taking a different tack, with the army already making the rare move of putting up a cordon around Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government. In 2015, most attackers were captured or killed on the spot. That has not been the case this time around, with the terrorist who carried out the Givat Asaf attack getting away, and reportedly making off with the gun of one of the victims. “The army is determined at this point to stop the wave of terror and find the terrorist, even at the price of hurting Palestinians daily lives,” Amir Bohbot writes in Walla, describing large traffic jams around the West Bank thanks to the cordon around Ramallah and checkpoints set up in other spots. The biggest loser, according to Bohbot, is the Palestinian Authority, which is watching the army hem it in while Hamas gets to brag about successes against the occupation. “The PA got hit doubly this week,” he quotes an officer telling him. In Yedioth, Nahum Barnea writes that there are arguments both for and against collective punishment. While noting that only oppressive regimes such as colonialists or genocidal leaders have seen any success from punishing a population as a whole (and even that is limited), making sure that innocent Palestinians are not harmed has also not been proven as a salve against popular uprisings, such as the First Intifada, which occurred at a time of relative prosperity in the West Bank and Gaza. “In general, the decision has been made on the basis of politics, not security,” he writes. With the defense minister doubling as the prime minister and likely soon to enter a fight for his political life, one can see where this is leading. 3. Build, baby, build: Another response has been for the government to increase building in the West Bank as a form of punishment (never mind that the fact that Israel uses settlement building as a punitive measure says clearly what it thinks of the enterprise). Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories FREE SIGN UP On Thursday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit officially approved the use of a legal tactic that will allow for the de-facto legalization of roughly 2,000 illegally built Israeli homes throughout the West Bank. The move came after Netanyahu vowed to increase building as a response to the attacks, saying in a statement that beffudled many that he would “legalize thousands of homes in communities in Judea and Samaria that were built in good faith and which have yet to be legalized, some for decades.” There’s more too. Haaretz reports that, “On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to discuss a bill to legalize a series of outposts and settlements. The proposal seeks to supply settlements whose status has yet to be confirmed with services that would prevent their demolition until they receive official status.” But there’s also some confusion: “It is not clear what the full implications of the bill would be. Most established outposts are already connected to water and electricity, largely via nearby settlements. The authorities refer to such outposts as recognized localities; budgets from both ministries and West Bank regional councils are transferred to them on an ongoing basis,” the paper reports. 4. Pressure builds: A sign of the political pressure Netanyahu is under because of the attacks was on display Thursday night, as some one thousand right-wingers rallied outside his residence in Jerusalem and called for his resignation. Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan told the crowd that he wasn’t seeking resignation, but action: “I call on Netanyahu to wake up! The people elected you to head a national government, but this government is behaving like the Barak government at the beginning of the Second Intifada,” Dagan said, referring to former prime minister Ehud Barak, on whose watch the uprising erupted in 2000. “We hope to see you crush the terrorist authority.” At the same time, settlers near Givat Asaf and elsewhere in the West Bank rioted and hurled rocks at Palestinian cars as they raged over the attacks. 5. Settlements as strategic bases: In Israel Hayom, Gershon Hacohen, a former high-ranking military officer, writes that there is a strategic importance as well to approving more building as a response to security challenges. “Without wide swaths of Jewish settlement, as there is in the West Bank today, the IDF would have a hard time maintaining a presence in the area and doing its job effectively,” he writes, pointing to the role Jewish settlement ringing Nablus played for soldiers taking part in 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield. “Where there are Israeli settlements near Nablus, they are used by Israeli forces as a protected launching point for repeated operations within Nablus. The IDF works to protect settlers, but mostly its operations there are to protect the coastal areas and the Tel Aviv region.” Not all settler leaders are enamored with the idea of building being tied to terror, as ToI’s Jacob Magid explained in September. 6. Soldiers remembered and rumors debunked: The two soldiers killed in Thursday were named as Yovel Mor-Yosef, 20, and Yosef Cohen, 19, both from the Netzach Yehuda brigade made up of more religious soldiers. Some reports Thursday indicated that Cohen, from an ultra-Orthodox background, had been disowned by his family for enlisting, and they had already mourned him (some ultra-religious families will sit shiva for a family member who leaves the fold). However, Haaretz reports that in fact his step-father, who heads a yeshiva that encourages work alongside Torah study, encouraged him to join the army, and his mother eventually accepted his choice as well. “These rumors are unspeakably evil and low,” mother Adele Cohen is quoted as saying, regarding the reports that the family had already mourned him. “I don’t know if I can forgive anyone for that. It never happened. I’m amazed at how brazen people can be, lying and inventing things that give people a bad name. I don’t know how anyone could devise such a thing.” Mor-Yosef, meanwhile, is praised for insisting on volunteering for combat duty the morning he was killed. “He spoke with his father this morning and Yovel said that he was supposed to go home after being on duty all night, but volunteered to switch with other people so they could rest,” his uncle tells Hadashot news. “This was ordained from heaven.” 7. ‘Noah didn’t stop telling his story’: Buried among all the security news Thursday was the death of Noah Klieger, 92, a sports journalist, editor, historian and Holocaust survivor who was well-known in Israel as a chronicler of the horrors of that period and the struggles afterward. Yedioth, which employed Klieger since the 1950s as an editor and columnist (he continued to write until recently) runs a series of appreciations, including from President Reuven Rivlin, Netanyahu, former IDF chief Benny Gantz and others. “Thanks to him, and a few others like him, the Shoah remains an institution in Israel and around the world. Every speech he gave in every place raised the memory of the Holocaust,” Eitan Haber, a Yedioth columnist, writes in one obituary. The paper also runs a full translation of a speech that Klieger gave to the UN last year that drew wide attention (or as wide attention as speeches at the UN about the Holocaust go). While Klieger was well known in Israel, he is nearly unknown in the English-speaking world. By coincidence, just last month, Harper’s Magazine happened to run a profile of Klieger which had been translated from German and is worth a read to get a sense of who the man was. “Noah’s the driven man who never gave up, who was never able to stop talking about Auschwitz, who swore to himself seventy years ago: If I get out of here alive the world must know, because then all this won’t have been in vain. He continues to confront his memories today, despite the fact that so many of his fellow survivors chose never to talk about their experience again, never to relate the horrors—not even to their children,” Marco Lauer writes. 8. Losing the memory-keepers: Together with Elie Wiesel and Aharon Appelfeld, Klieger marks the third writer whose life was marked by perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust to die in the last two years, underlining the intensive efforts to make sure survivors are heard as time runs out. The Associated Press reports that another loss Thursday was Alter Wiener, 92, who recently appeared before lawmakers to press for mandatory curriculum about the Holocaust and genocide in Oregon, where he lived. Wiener was killed while crossing a street near his home, according to the AP. “He spoke to thousands of Oregonians about his experiences, making nearly 1,000 appearances at schools, libraries, churches, conferences and charitable events,” the agency notes. READ MORE: Israel & the Region Israel media review Hebrew media review West Bank terror attacks 19 shares COMMENTS

Israel holds major drill to practice fighting Hamas and Hezbollah simultaneously

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel holds major drill to practice fighting Hamas and Hezbollah simultaneously

Ongoing 10-day exercise by Commando Brigade tackles battling Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in north at the same time, a prospect military fears is liable to occur

  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade simulate fighting the Hezbollah terror group  in northern Israel in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade simulate fighting the Hezbollah terror group in northern Israel in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli military’s Commando Brigade launched a large-scale exercise this week to practice fighting the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip and the Hezbollah terrorist militia in Lebanon simultaneously, the army said Saturday. The drill is continuing into this week.

In the past, Israeli defense analysts have speculated that concerns over the prospect of a two-front war prevented the military from launching a major campaign in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire from the coastal enclave.

The exercise, and the Israel Defense Forces’ publicity of it, appeared to serve as a message to the two terrorist groups that Israel was prepared for such an eventuality.

According to the military, the commando exercise began earlier this week and was expected to last 10 days. Soldiers from the Maglan, Egoz, and Duvdevan units took part in the drill.

It included significant cooperation with the Israeli Air Force, which both transported the commandos and carried out airstrikes alongside them.

“During the exercise, the brigade practiced fighting between different landscapes and arenas, combat in open fields and urban combat,” the army said.

The military said the purpose of the exercise was to improve the commando brigade’s preparedness for war. It was the unit’s sixth brigade-wide exercise since it was created in December 2015.

Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade simulate fighting the Hezbollah terror group in northern Israel in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot observed the exercise earlier this week.

During his visit, the head of the Commando Brigade Col. Kobi Heller told Eisenkot that his unit was “ready and prepared for any scenario in which it is needed and will stand up to any enemy in any arena.”

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, center, and other senior officers visit an IDF Commando Brigade exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group, which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, is believed to possess an arsenal of some 10,000 rockets and mortar shells. Israel has fought three wars with the terror group in the past decade, and has repeatedly been on the verge of a fourth over the past eight months as Hamas has led a campaign of border violence and occasional rocket and mortar fire at southern Israel.

Members of the Hamas terror group’s military wing attend the funeral of six of its fighters at a cemetery in the Deir al-Balah refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on May 6, 2018. (Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Earlier this month, the terror group, partnering with the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, launched some 500 rockets and mortar shells at Israel, killing one person and injuring dozens more.

In response, the Israeli military launched strikes against some 160 targets in the Gaza Strip connected to the two terror groups, killing seven people, most of whom were later identified as members of terrorist organizations, including some who were in the process of launching projectiles at Israel at the time they were killed.

The battle ended with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, which has largely held since November 13, but with considerable criticism within Israel, including by former defense minister Avigdor Liberman, who resigned in protest of it, calling it “capitulation to terror.”

However, the IDF does not see Hamas as a serious military threat. Rather, the terror group is effectively allowed to remain in power as the Israeli government fears an even more extremist organization could take its place were it to be defeated.

The Iran-backed, Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist army, however, is considered by the military to be a significant strategic threat. With over 100,000 rockets and missiles in its arsenal, Hezbollah is seen by some defense analysts as more powerful than some Western militaries.

Fighters from the Hezbollah terror group are seen at a rally marking the 11th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, in the village of Khiam in southern Lebanon on August 13, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmoud Zayyat)

Israel fought a 34-day war with the terror group in Lebanon in 2006. Since then, the Lebanese border has been quieter than in the years preceding the conflict. However, Hezbollah has used the time to build up its arsenals considerably, with more precise and dangerous munitions, and has gained considerable experience and training by fighting alongside the Russian and Syrian militaries in the Syrian civil war in support of dictator Bashar Assad.

READ MORE:

1982: Israel Sank A Lebanese Refugee Boat In ‘War Error’ Killing 25

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel admits it sank Lebanese refugee boat in 1982 war error, killing 25 — TV

Captain of Israeli submarine thought boat was carrying PLO fighters; navy probe found he acted mistakenly, but no crime was committed; former officer accuses IDF of cover-up

Illustrative footage from a Channel 10 report on an Israeli submarine that sank a Lebanese refugee boat in 1982, killing 25, broadcast on November 22, 2018 (Screencapture / Channel 10)

Illustrative footage from a Channel 10 report on an Israeli submarine that sank a Lebanese refugee boat in 1982, killing 25, broadcast on November 22, 2018 (Screen capture / Channel 10)

An Israeli submarine mistakenly torpedoed a boat carrying refugees and foreign workers off the Lebanese coast during the 1982 Lebanon War, killing 25 people, Channel 10 news revealed Thursday, after the IDF finally lifted military censorship on reporting on the 36-year-old incident.

According to Channel 10, the incident occurred off the coast of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli in June 1982 as Israel was enforcing a naval blockade of Lebanon.

Israeli forces had entered Lebanon that month in an attack against the PLO bases that marked the beginning of what came to be known as the First Lebanon War. The Gal-type submarine was taking part in “Operation Dreyfus,” namely the navy attempt to prevent Syrian naval forces from intervening in the fighting.

According to Channel 10, which had filed a petition to the High Court of Justice against the censorship of its report on the incident, a local boat apparently tried to take advantage of a brief ceasefire and flee the area with a group of refugees and foreign workers on board.

The captain of the Israeli submarine, identified as “Maj. A,” believed the boat was carrying Palestinian fighters fleeing from the IDF, however, and gave an order to fire two torpedoes at the boat, sinking it.

The captain told a later IDF inquiry that he was convinced there were Palestinian terrorists on the boat and that he had seen 30 to 40 men, all wearing similar outfits, which he believed to be military uniforms. He also ascertained there were no women and children on board the vessel, the captain testified.

“I looked carefully over the ship from end to end, and I saw there were no women or children on board,” Maj. A. testified. He added that he continued to monitor the ship as it sank, and still did not see women or children. “I kept watching for two hours, until darkness had completely fallen.”

Israeli armored personnel carriers are positioned near a mosque on the outskirts of the Lebanese capital of Beirut, Wednesday June 16, 1982. (AP Photo/Rina Castelnuovo)

The captain of the Lebanese boat and 24 others died in the Israeli strike. Channel 10 said later Thursday there had been 54 people on board in all, and that the boat had been trying to reach Cyprus. It noted that the sea in the area at that time was filled with vessels, some carrying terrorists, and some civilians seeking to escape the war.

Channel 10 said that it appeared that amid the chaos of the war, the Palestinians and the Lebanese never realized that the boat was sunk by an Israeli submarine.

The report featured no footage of the incident; it was accompanied, rather, by illustrative and simulated footage.

The vessel and its occupants were not identified in Thursday night’s TV report.

A simulation of an Israeli submarine strike on a Lebanese refugee boat in 1982. (screen capture: Channel 10)

The IDF only investigated the incident 10 years after it occurred, after the head of the submarine unit demanded a probe to glean operational lessons from the event, the report said.

The IDF investigation into the sinking found that while the captain had made a mistake, he had been acting within his operational orders. It noted that he had not fired on several other ships believed to be carrying Palestinian fighters due to suspicions there were innocent civilians on board.

“It was not a war crime and there was no misconduct, there is no place for legal action,” the IDF report found, according to Channel 10.

However, a former senior IDF officer who has been investigating the incident told Channel 10 he disagreed.

Col. (Ret) Mike Eldar (Screencapture / Channel 10)

Col. (Ret) Mike Eldar, who commanded the 11th flotilla during the war, said the captain acted improperly and accused Israel of trying to cover up the incident.

“We have rules of engagement even on submarines, you don’t just shoot a boat because you suspect maybe there was something,” he told Channel 10, adding that the submarine should have summoned a navy patrol boat to investigate.

Eldar said he sought to have Israel acknowledge the incident for decades.

“I turned to the police, the army, the justice department and they all ignored me,” he said. “It’s insulting, personally and nationally.”

He also pointed to the testimony of the second in command of the submarine, Capt. B. He had testified that following previous incidents in which the Israeli submarine had refrained from firing on suspicious ships, the mood shifted to “an atmosphere of a desire to attack and fire at any cost. I believed we should not fire because the identification was not definite.”

According to Eldar, there were several other officers who wanted to testify at an inquiry but were not allowed to.

Channel 10 said it believed the IDF had sought to avoid the incident becoming public partly because of shame over what occurred. It said several senior navy officers from that period were still refusing to be interviewed about it.

READ MORE:

I have Been A Fan Of PM Netanyahu For Years, But Israel’s Government Is About To Fall

Israel’s Government Will Soon Fall

(THIS ARTICLE IS THE OPINION OF OLDPOET56)

I have to preference the fact of the title with the statement that I have never personally met Israel’s Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu. When I say “a fan” I simply mean that I have been in favor of him being the Prime Minister of Israel since he first became Prime Minister in 1996. I do not claim to know everything that he has done, both good or bad, I can only go by the different things I have read of him and what I have seen and heard on the T.V.. I know that the Leaders of any Nation are required to make decisions all of the time and I know that no matter what a Leader decides there are going to be factions within their own government and within the general population that are going to be mad at them if the Leader didn’t do exactly what that faction was wanting done. To me it would seem that one of the most difficult Nations on Earth to be the Leader of, would be Israel. Yet I do believe that Mr. Netanyahu does love the Nation of Israel with all his heart but I do believe that these most recent military related mistakes are going to be the end of him being the Nations Prime Minister.

 

For the readers who are not aware of it, the Nation of Israel usually always has a government by coalition. This simply means that during one of their elections if the Party with the most votes does not have at least 50% then they have to get some of the other political parties to join with them to help form a government. When any of the secondary ruling Parties gets mad about what the Prime Minister does or is doing, they can remove themselves from the Ruling Coalition. Sometimes, like now, a secondary Party called Jewish Home is saying that they are going to leave, if they do this the Government will fall and a new election will be called. After the failed IDF mission in Gaza a few nights ago and the Truce the Prime Minister accepted with Hamas after Hamas had retaliated by firing about 500 Rockets into southern Israel, Israel’s Minister of Defense Mr. Liberman resigned. Mr. Liberman was very upset that the Prime Minister did not retaliate with a mass bombing on Hamas targets in Gaza. Instead Israel did bomb a couple of empty Hamas buildings in Southern Gaza. The reason that Israel is headed toward a new election is not because of the resignation of Mr. Liberman, it is the leaders of the Jewish Home party blackmailing the Prime Minister. The blackmail is simple, they are telling the Prime Minister that if he does not appoint a man from the Jewish Home Party to the post of Defense Minister, they leave. Evidently Mr. Netanyahu is refusing to do this. I would think that within a few days we will all see how this shakes out. Personally, I believe that Mr. Netanyahu made a huge mistake by not retaliating against Hamas much stronger than he did, the PM really let down the people of southern Israel in this event, it may end up being his last mistake as Israel’s Prime Minister.

 

 

Hundreds protest reported Gaza ceasefire

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Hundreds protest reported Gaza ceasefire, block Sderot roads with burning tires

Some demonstrators in rocket-battered town clash with police, chant ‘Bibi go home’; protesters said planning rally in Tel Aviv Wednesday

Protesters burn tires at the entrance to the southern town of Sderot, Novermber 13, 2018 (Hadashot screenshot)

Protesters burn tires at the entrance to the southern town of Sderot, November 13, 2018 (Hadashot screenshot)

Hundreds of people were demonstrating Tuesday evening at the entrance to the town of Sderot over Israel’s reported agreement for a ceasefire with Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers, after a 25-hour period that saw over 460 rockets fired at Israeli communities near the Palestinian enclave.

Protesters were blocking roads and burning tires, with some chanting, “Bibi go home,” using a nickname for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Confrontations were reported between protesters and policemen.

Police said they were working to restore order, saying they would “allow freedom of expression and lawful protest” but not “disturbance of public order, violence towards policemen and civilians and riots on major roads.”

Some 500 people were reported to be taking part in the protest.

According to Hadashot TV news, some southern residents planned further demonstrations and road blockages in Tel Aviv on Wednesday to protest the truce.

matan tzuri מתן צורי

@MatanTzuri

הדיווחים על הפסקת האש הוציאו עשרות מתושבי שדרות לרחובות. “ממשלה רופסת” הם קוראים

See matan tzuri מתן צורי’s other Tweets

Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay expressed support for the protesters, saying it was a “justified” response to the government “forsaking” them.

He said the government had failed the south by “neglecting” the issue of Gaza since the 2014 war.

“This is not the time for another fragile truce,” he said. “This is the time for a true diplomatic initiative in Gaza, that will lean on the recommendations of the security establishment.”

Hamas and other Gaza terror groups said Tuesday they had accepted an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire with Israel. Terms of the deal were not immediately known, and there was no immediate comment from Israel. But a senior Israeli diplomatic official appeared to confirm the reported armistice.

“Israel maintains its right to act. Requests from Hamas for a ceasefire came through four different mediators. Israel responded that the events on the ground will decide [if a ceasefire will go into effect],” the official said, on condition of anonymity.

Many southern residents were unhappy with the decision.

“It’s better that we suffer in shelters and they put an end to it once and for all,” Reut Bassis of Sderot told Hadashot. “A month from today the same thing will happen…it doesn’t make sense that our lives are like this.”

Another Sderot resident, Miri, said: “The IDF is hitting empty buildings, while sending them trucks with cement and construction materials. Where’s our self-respect? We’ve been at war for 17 years.”

Another man, Yohanan Cohen, said he had lost faith in the prime minister. “I’ve been a Likud man for 40 years but I promise I won’t vote Likud anymore. We’re captives of Hamas.”

People gather outside a house that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, on November 13, 2018. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Channel 10 news reported Tuesday evening that at least four senior ministers opposed the decision.

The report said Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett proposed an alternative response, but it was rejected by the other ministers.

An unnamed minister who attended the seven-hour meeting Tuesday told the news outlet that no vote was held to determine the next steps. A source with direct knowledge of the discussions confirmed to the Times of Israel there was no vote.

The source confirmed there were several disagreements between cabinet members, some of which were the focus of debate for a number of hours. They would not comment on the content of the disagreements.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the security cabinet released a statement that read, “The security cabinet discussed the events in the south. The cabinet received briefings from the IDF and defense officials on the [IDF] strikes and widespread operations against terror targets in Gaza. The cabinet instructed the IDF to continue its strikes as needed.”

According to the military, over 460 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel over the course of 25 hours on Monday and Tuesday. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted over 100 of them. Most of the rest landed in open fields, but dozens landed inside Israeli cities and towns, killing one person, injuring dozens more, and causing significant property damage.

A home in the southern Israeli town of Netivot that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018. (Israel Police)

In response to the rocket and mortar attacks, the Israeli military said it targeted approximately 160 sites in the Gaza Strip connected to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, including four facilities that the army designated as “key strategic assets.”

In recent weeks, Egyptian and UN mediators had appeared to be making progress in brokering informal understandings aimed at quieting the situation.

Last week, Israel allowed Qatar to deliver $15 million to Gaza to allow cash-strapped Hamas to pay the salaries of thousands of government workers. At the same time, Hamas has lowered the intensity of violent border protests in recent weeks.

The fighting on Monday and Tuesday cast doubt over understandings previously brokered by Egypt and UN officials to reduce tensions. Just a day earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had defended those understandings, saying he was doing everything possible to avoid another “unnecessary war.”

READ MORE:

Father of slain IDF officer: ‘I hope this is the final loss for Israel’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Father of slain IDF officer: ‘I hope this is the final loss for Israel’

Special forces soldier who died in secretive Gaza Strip mission gone awry is recalled as contributing to social activism, raising children with patriotic values

Israeli soldiers stand guard in Nahal Oz, southern Israel, near the border with Gaza, November 12, 2018. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Israeli soldiers stand guard in Nahal Oz, southern Israel, near the border with Gaza, November 12, 2018. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

The father of a senior special forces officer who was killed overnight during an operation in the Gaza Strip said Monday he hopes that his son’s death will be the last Israel suffers.

The army described the incident, in which another officer was moderately injured which sparked hours of clashes, as an intelligence-gathering mission that went awry.

Most details of the raid, including the identity of the officer who was killed, remained subject to a military censor and could not be published.

“This is a great loss,” the father said, according to a report from Hadashot news television. “I hope it will be the final loss for the people of Israel.”

A close relative said that the officer, who has been identified by the military only by the Hebrew initial “Mem,” joined the army after high school and had remained in the service ever since.

The lieutenant colonel was 41 years old, was married with two children and lived in a town in northern Israel.

“He was a social activist and contributed greatly,” the relative said. “The family didn’t know what he did aside from the fact that he was a senior officer in an elite unit. His family was exemplary, his wife works in the medical sector and helps children.”

A close acquaintance of Lt. Col. Mem said he volunteered in various organizations and “raised the next generation with values of patriotism, and values of contributing and volunteering.”

“He began to think of the future, of advancing in the civilian security establishment,” the acquaintance said. “Or alternatively, he considered progressing through the military establishment.”

Palestinians stand next to the remains of a car allegedly used by Israeli special forces during a raid in Gaza, which was was later destroyed in an Israeli airstrike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Condolences and commiserations over the death of the officer came from senior Israeli figures including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein.

Netanyahu tweeted: “I bow my head in sadness at the loss of Lt. Col. Mem, a glorious fighter who fell during an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip.”

The injured soldier, who has also not been identified, regained consciousness Monday morning, and was not in life-threatening danger, Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center said in a statement.

After he regained consciousness, his wife and children were allowed to see him for a short time.

His mother, who was also at the hospital intensive care unit where he is being treated, told Hadashot news of her relief that he was still alive.

“I pray that my son recovers as soon as possible,” she said. “It is a miracle that I got him back alive. I couldn’t bear to see his children, my grandchildren, crying. It was hard. I left the room.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett also paid a visit to the officer at the hospital and declared that the deceased soldier and his wounded comrade were “national heroes.”

“I send my deepest condolences to the family of Lt.-Col. Mem, and wish a speedy recovery to those wounded,” Bennett said.

The wounded officer’s brother told Hadashot news that he still had not seen his sibling.

“The whole family and I are praying for his health,” the brother said. “We believe God is watching over him. We want to thank all the people who are interested in his welfare.”

A helicopter carrying a wounded Israeli soldier who was injured during an operation in the Gaza Strip lands outside Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center on November 11, 2018. (Twitter)

IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said Monday that the overnight mission in Gaza was intended as an intelligence-gathering mission by IDF special forces operating deep inside Gaza, not an assassination or kidnapping attempt.

At some point during the operation, the Israeli troops clashed with local Hamas fighters, killing a senior commander and several other members of the Gaza-ruling terrorist group.

The IDF unit called in aerial support — aircraft to bomb the surrounding area — and made its away out of the Gaza Strip.

Manelis said the soldiers operating in Gaza overnight “became trapped in a highly complex situation but they had responded “heroically, hit those who threatened them and extracted themselves to Israeli territory.”

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, seven Palestinians in total were killed in the exchange and another seven were injured.

Following the raid, Palestinian terrorist groups launched at least 17 projectiles — rockets and mortar shells — at southern Israel. Three of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system. The rest fell in open fields outside populated communities, one of them causing light damage to a greenhouse in the Eshkol region.

Hamas accused Israel of sabotaging an emerging ceasefire agreement that was brokered by Egypt and supported by Qatar.

READ MORE:

Islamic Jihad calls ceasefire as Israel hits back at 30-plus rockets from Gaza

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL NEWS PAPER)

 

Islamic Jihad calls ceasefire as Israel hits back at 30-plus rockets from Gaza

Iran-backed terror group says it will halt fire after talking with Egypt; no acknowledgement of deal by Israel, which strikes IJ targets in 95 raids

Palestinians check damage to buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on October 27, 2018 after salvos of rocket fire from Gaza. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Palestinians check damage to buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on October 27, 2018 after salvos of rocket fire from Gaza. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Islamic Jihad announced Saturday it had agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire to end an escalating exchange of fire with Israel, as Israeli jets struck sites in the Gaza Strip belonging to the Palestinian terror organization.

A spokesman for the group told the Gaza-based Safa news site that a ceasefire agreement went into effect following Egyptian communication with its leadership.

He said Islamic Jihad would remain committed to the ceasefire as long as Israel did likewise.

There was no immediate acknowledgement of the ceasefire declaration in Israel, which in the past has denied proclamations by Gaza-based terror groups regarding understandings to end fighting.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and other top security officials at the time of the announcement.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman meets with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and other top military officers at Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv on October 27, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

A few hours after Islamic Jihad announced the ceasefire, the Eshkol Regional Council lifted orders that residents must remain in close proximity to bomb shelters.

Restrictions remained in place, however, limiting gatherings outdoors to 100 people and those indoors to 500.

The declaration by Islamic Jihad to end the rocket fire came as the Israel Defense Forces said fighter jets struck eight targets tied to the Iran-backed terror group in three separate military facilities after Israel was hit by salvos of rockets from Gaza overnight and on Saturday morning.

The Gaza targets included weapons production sites and a factory that makes parts for subterranean tunnels, the army said, adding that the later was near a school.

The top IDF spokesperson earlier blamed Iran and Syria for the Islamic Jihad rocket attacks. Though he did not accuse Hamas of taking part in the launches, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis reiterated that Israel considers the terror group responsible as Gaza’s rulers.

Another IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said the rocket strikes were ordered by operatives from the overseas branch of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps stationed in Syria and warned Israel may not limit its response to Gaza.

“From our perspective, part of the address by which we will deal with this fire is also in Damascus and the Quds Force,” he said. “Our response is not limited geographically.”

Israel Defense Forces

@IDFSpokesperson

1. This Palestinian Islamic Jihad cement factory, which was used to build cross-border terror tunnels, was built RIGHT NEXT TO a , putting the children of at risk.

View image on Twitter

Israel Defense Forces

@IDFSpokesperson

2. We also struck this Islamic Jihad weapons manufacturing facility – they use their weapons to try to kill innocent Israeli civilians, we use our weapons to destroy their weapons. pic.twitter.com/bKqyBsaZwf

34 rockets were fired at Israel overnight and Saturday morning, according to the IDF, 13 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Two of the rockets fell in Gaza and the rest landed in open areas.

The Defense Ministry’s liaison to the Palestinians said a mortar launched during the barrages struck the ambulance terminal at the Erez border crossing, the sole pedestrian passage between Gaza and Israel.

In response to the rocket fire, Israeli aircraft and attack helicopters attacked 95 targets in Gaza belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The army said the targets included military and weapons manufacturing facilities through the Strip, a factory in Khan Younis producing cement used in subterranean tunnels and a four-story building in Gaza City headquartering Hamas security services.

The IDF said in a statement Saturday morning it “views with great severity the rocket attacks tonight against Israeli communities.” It blamed Hamas for creating “a terror-enabling atmosphere…near the border fence which led terror groups in the Strip to carry out tonight’s attack.”

A four-story building in Gaza City’s Daraj neighborhood belong to Hamas’ General Security Services is seen on October 27, 2018, moments before it was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike. (Israel Defense Forces)

Palestinian sources speaking to the Ynet news website claimed the attacks were carried out against the objections of the Hamas terror group that rules Gaza, though this had no official confirmation.

Israel views Hamas as ultimately responsible for any attacks emanating from the territory it controls, regardless of the source.

In response to the rocket barrages, the IDF’s Home Front Command overnight issued instructions restricting gatherings in the Gaza periphery: up to 100 people in open areas and 500 people in closed spaces.

The rocket fire comes amid a deadly flareup in violence in the Gaza Strip. Earlier on Friday, thousands of Palestinians gathered at five locations along the border, burning tires and throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli troops who responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.

Five protesters were killed and another 170 were injured in the clashes with IDF troops, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said. One of those killed was blown up by his own hand grenade, which exploded prematurely, witnesses said.

Earlier this week, a rocket was launched at southern Israel from Gaza, triggering sirens in a number of communities in the Eshkol region, ending a week-long stretch of relative calm in the coastal enclave. In response to that attack, the IDF said it hit eight Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, including training bases and a weapons production facility.

A picture taken on on October 27, 2018 shows an explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The ramped up tensions are likely to complicate the mission of Egyptian mediators, who have intensified their shuttle diplomacy to achieve calm and prevent a full-blown conflict between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel.

Weekly large-scale riots by Gazans, and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, have become a mainstay along the Strip’s security fence since March 30, as part of a Hamas-led effort known as the “March of Return.”

These demonstrations take place each Friday, regularly sending massive amounts of thick smoke into the Israeli communities nearby, as Palestinians burn tires along the border and send incendiary devices affixed to balloons into Israel to spark fires.

The period since March 30 has also included a number of significant flareups and extended clashes. Another rocket launched from the Gaza Strip last week struck a home in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, causing significant damage, but no injuries as the family inside had reached their bomb shelter in time.

In recent weeks, the situation along the border has grown more precarious, as indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas — with the Egyptian military and United Nations acting as intermediaries — have reached a critical turning point.

A Palestinian holds a Palestinian flag as he uses a slingshot to hurl rocks at Israeli troops during clashes near the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on October 26, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Israel has called for a cessation to all violence, including both the clashes on the border and the daily arson attacks that have burned large swaths of land in the south, in exchange for certain economic incentives and an easing of the blockade around the coastal enclave, which is imposed by Israel to prevent Hamas importing weapons.

At least 160 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been injured in the clashes with IDF troops, according to AP figures. Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seized control of the Strip in 2007 and seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged that dozens of the dead were its members. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a sniper on the border.

The Associated Press and Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

READ MORE: