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Latest News – 9 September

Updates from Israel and the Jewish World
compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman

Israeli Air Force Pounds Hamas Terrorists in Response to Drone Attack

The IDF stated that it struck a number of Hamas targets, including offensive naval equipment and two military compounds in the north and the center of the Gaza Strip. The strike lasted over 45 minutes.

The strike was carried out in response to an armed drone launched from Gaza that dropped an explosive device on an IDF vehicle earlier in the day. An IAF aircraft fired at the terror cell that launched the drone.

No one was injured in the attack and an IDF vehicle was lightly damaged, but it is considered a significant escalation.

On Friday evening, Gaza-based terrorists launched rockets at Israel. One of the rockets exploded in the city of Sderot, causing damage but no injuries. In response, an IDF tank and the IAF struck a number of Hamas targets in northern Gaza. The IDF is investigating why the Iron Dome defense system did not intercept the rockets.

On Friday afternoon, violent riots took place on the Gaza border, attended by some 6,200 rioters. The IDF noted that the disturbances were of a particularly violent nature this week and included the throwing of a large number of explosive charges, grenades and Molotov cocktails at the fence and IDF forces. Two rioters were killed by IDF fire.

“The IDF will continue to operate against attempts to harm Israeli civilians and considers the Hamas terrorist organization responsible for the Gaza Strip,” it stated.

Amid the high tensions, three 13-year-olds armed with a knife who attempted to infiltrate Israel from Gaza were captured by IDF forces on the border. Shortly after, IDF forces arrested a fourth infiltrator who was armed with two knives.

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received regular updates throughout Saturday and issued directives for the necessary operations.

“Hamas is responsible for all aggression originating from Gazan territory. Any attempt to harm either our civilians or our soldiers will be met with a vigorous response,” he warned.

The violent weekend on Israel’s southern border occurred just a week and a half before Israel elections. The Islamic Jihad is believed to be behind the escalation and may utilize this tense period to launch further attacks on Israel. (United with Israel)

US Mideast Envoy Jason Greenblatt to Resign

U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt will resign within the coming weeks, announced the White House on Thursday.

Reportedly, Greenblatt, who has played a key role in the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan for the Israelis and the Palestinians, will remain at the White House for another few weeks until the launch of the political component of the proposal following the Sept. 17 Israeli elections.

The economic component was revealed in June at a conference in Bahrain.

Avi Berkowitz, a deputy to White House senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, will take over most of Greenblatt’s duties.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to have worked in the White House for over two-and-a-half years under the leadership of President [Donald] Trump. I am incredibly grateful to have been part of a team that drafted a vision for peace,” said Greenblatt. “This vision has the potential to vastly improve the lives of millions of Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region.”

“I would like to thank my incredible wife Naomi and my amazing six children for their strength and encouragement,” he continued. “I will thoroughly miss working with my friends and colleagues Jared Kushner, David Friedman and Avi Berkowitz, as well as the many other dedicated individuals within the U..S government who were instrumental in our efforts.”

“Jason has done a tremendous job leading the efforts to develop an economic and political vision for a long sought after peace in the Middle East,” said Kushner. “His work has helped develop the relationships between Israel and its neighbors, as he is trusted and respected by all of the leaders throughout the region. He is a close friend and partner, and will continue to make a positive impact on the world.”

“I would like to thank Jason Greenblatt for his dedicated work on behalf of security and peace, and for not hesitating for a moment to speak out and tell the truth against all those who spoke ill of the State of Israel. Thank you Jason, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated following the announcement.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said, “It’s been a tremendous privilege to work with Jason these past few years on the critical tasks of repairing and strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship, and seeking peace and stability within the Middle East. Jason has been a trusted friend and a valued colleague who has touched so many with his wisdom, sincerity and good will. He has made an enormous and indelible contribution, which we will seek to build upon as we move forward.” (United with Israel)

US blocks UN Security Council statement on Israel

In a six-point text, UN Security Council members expressed “deep concern” about a flare-up between arch-foes Israel and Lebanon across the “Blue Line”

The United States has blocked a UN Security Council statement on tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, rejecting any criticism of Israel and forcing the text to be scrapped, according to diplomatic sources Thursday.

In the first version of the six-point text, seen by AFP, council members expressed “deep concern at the recent incidents” during a flare-up between the arch-foes across the “Blue Line” border.

The draft, drawn up by France, added that “members of the security council condemned all violations of the Blue Line, both by air and ground, and strongly calls upon all parties to respect the cessation of hostilities”.

According to diplomats, Washington blocked the statement twice, calling for Hezbollah to be specifically condemned in the text.

Washington said it was impossible for it to back any statement putting Israel’s right to self-determination on an equal footing with Hezbollah, which it considers a “terrorist organization”, a diplomat explained.

Several other members of the security council objected to the US stance, and the text was eventually abandoned.

Any statement by the council must be backed by all 15 members.

Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese movement, alleged Israel launched a drone strike on its Beirut stronghold late last month.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun denounced it as a “declaration of war”.

Israel has not acknowledged that attack, but accused Hezbollah and Tehran of colluding to produce precision-guided missiles on Lebanese soil.

In a six-point text, UN Security Council members expressed “deep concern” about a flare-up between arch-foes Israel and Lebanon across the “Blue Line” (border between the two nations pictured February 2019) ( Agence-France Presse)

Israeli teen badly hurt in West Bank stabbing attack after visiting dentist

The army on Saturday announced that an initial investigation into the stabbing of two Israelis, attacked after visiting a Palestinian dentist earlier in the day in the West Bank village of Azun, was a terror attack.

“An assailant stabbed two Israeli civilians after they had entered Azun in order to receive medical treatment,” the army said Saturday referring to a village east of Qalqilya in the north of the territory.

The victims were a 60-year-old father, Yosef Perez, who was lightly injured and his teen son, Liber Perez, 17, who was badly hurt.

Liber Perez sustained multiple stab wounds to his upper body in the Saturday morning assault, while the father was lightly hurt on the arm.

The two, residents of the southern Israeli city of Ofakim, were visiting a local dentist for treatment along with the father’s brother when they were accosted by a young Palestinian man, said to be a teen, who asked if they were Jews, they said later Saturday.

There were conflicting reports on how they responded. The uncle told Walla news that they replied in Arabic, telling the young man that they were not Jews, while the father told Channel 12 news that they replied that they were indeed Jewish.

Both said they suddenly spotted a knife in the assailant’s hand during the brief exchange.

The father told Walla news that he quickly alerted his brother as he tried to apprehend the attacker but was stabbed in the arm. “My son was afraid for me, he pushed me aside and he quickly jumped on him with his head down. [The attacker] took advantage of the position and began stabbing him in his back,” Perez recounted.

The dentist, both men said, helped save them.

“The dentist helped us; he jumped on him and held him against the wall and hit him while we escaped,” the father said.

“For a year now I have been coming to this dentist for treatment and everything was fine. I never thought something like this would happen,” he went on.

The dentist, who gave his name as Dr. Amin, told Channel 12 in horror that the victims were attacked “inside my clinic… They are my patients.”

The suspect is said to be a 15-year-old local resident. According to Palestinian media reports, Israeli security forces arrested his father on Saturday. Some Hebrew media reports said earlier that the attacker had surrendered to Palestinian authorities.

The injured father and son were brought by IDF medics to the Eliyahu border crossing and from there taken by the Magen David Adom ambulance service to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba for further treatment.

The teen was later listed in moderate but stable condition by the hospital.

Israeli military officials have warned in recent weeks of an increase in terrorist activities and violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the lead-up to next month’s Israeli elections.

Last month a teenage girl was killed and her father and brother were seriously injured in a terrorist bombing at a natural spring outside the central West Bank settlement of Dolev.

Rina Shnerb, 17, of Lod, was critically wounded in the attack and received treatment at the scene from civilian and military medics before being pronounced dead of her injuries. Her father Eitan, a rabbi in Lod, and brother Dvir, 19, were taken by military helicopter to a Jerusalem hospital in serious condition.

The army said an improvised explosive device was used in the attack. Police sappers determined that the bomb had been planted earlier at the spring and was triggered remotely when the family approached it.

Earlier in the month, a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into two Israeli teenage siblings, critically injuring one of them, outside the Elazar settlement in the central West Bank, just south of Jerusalem.

And prior to that, an Israeli religious seminary student, Dvir Sorek, was found stabbed to death outside the settlement of Migdal Oz. Israeli security forces tracked down the suspected killers in approximately 48 hours, arresting Palestinian cousins, Nasir Asafra, 24, and Qassem Asafra, 30, from the village of Beit Kahil in the southern West Bank. (the Times of Israel)

Israeli students violently assaulted in Warsaw by Qatari youths

Several Israeli students in Warsaw on a semester abroad were violently assaulted in the Polish capital in the early hours of Saturday morning, allegedly by a group of young men from Qatar, including two who were hospitalized.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed the attack and said that the Israeli consul in Warsaw had addressed the incident.

Yotam Kashpizky and several friends who are in Warsaw within the framework of their studies at the Rishon Lezion Management College had been at a night club in the city and left at around 4 a.m. in the early hours of Saturday morning.

As they left, Kashpizky says that a group of young Arab men approached them and started asking if they were Israeli.

Kashpizky told The Jerusalem Post that the men identified themselves as being from Qatar and started shouting “free Palestine,” “free Gaza” and “f**k Israel” at the group of Israelis, and when they stated they were indeed from Israel, the Qatari men began to attack and assault them.

Kashpizky had already left the scene in a taxi but when he saw what happened, he exited his cab and rushed to assist his friends.

One of the assailants punched Yotam in the face and he lost consciousness. He believes the assailant used a knuckle-duster, given the serious injuries he sustained and the fact that he was knocked unconscious.

Pictures posted by Kashpizky’s brother on Facebook showed him with a bloodied face and nose, and a closed eye.

Kashpizky was taken to hospital and treated for a broken nose and eye socket and hopes to arrive back in Israel either tomorrow or shortly thereafter.

The victim described the assault as a “terrorist incident based on nationalistic motives” and was highly critical of both the by-passers in the street and night club security personnel, who he said did nothing to help the Israelis who were being attacked.

Kashpizky also strongly criticized the Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw, saying that they had not been of any help, and had merely directed them to report the incident to the police in Warsaw.

He said, however, that the Warsaw School of Economics with whom the Israeli students had been studying had been extremely helpful following the incident and assisted him and the other student who had been injured.

Kashpizky and others reported the incident to the police in Warsaw, who said it was under investigation.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the Israeli consul in Warsaw Mani Kaamara did offer assistance and recommended the victims file a complaint with the police.

“The Foreign Ministry is examining the incident and will make a decision regarding further steps with the local authorities,” the ministry said in a statement to the press. (Jerusalem Post)

2 Palestinians dead and 76 injured during Gaza protests

Two Palestinians were killed during massive protests along the Gaza border Friday evening. Reports say that the first casualty is 17-year-old Ali Sami Al-Ashqar, who was killed east of the town of Jabalya. The second has been identified as 14-year-old Khalid Al-Raba’i, a resident of the Ashati refugee camp. He was killed east of Gaza City.

Around 6,200 Palestinians gathered along the border. Some 66 people were injured in the ensuing clash with IDF forces, 46 of them from live ammunition, according to Palestinian Health Services.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and Molotov cocktails were thrown towards IDF forces during the protests. Reports say that two grenades were also thrown at IDF jeeps near Khan Yunis.

Two Palestinians breached the northern border of Gaza, but were promptly caught and arrested by the military.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit released a statement in response to the violence:

“Violent demonstrations during which around 6,200 protesters assembled in several locations along the Gaza border fence. The demonstrations were of an especially violent nature, which included a large amount of IEDs, grenades and Molotov cocktails being thrown towards IDF forces along the fence,” it said.

“There is noticeable damage to the border fence in several locations, and there has been a rising number of attempts to approach the border fence,”the statement continued. “IDF forces recognized suspects crossing the border all through the strip, each quickly returning to Gazan territory. Two suspects that crossed the border fence in the north of the strip were arrested by IDF forces and brought in for interrogation.”

Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem tweeted in response. “Violating the blood of peaceful demonstrators in the marches of return and deliberately targeting them is a crime that the occupation bears all its repercussions.”

Sources in the Gaza Strip say the protest organizers, along with Hamas, have been urging restraint over the past few weeks ahead of the demonstrations, telling Palestinians not to go near the fence or blow incendiary balloons, in an attempt to lessen casualties.

Friday’s events marked week 73 of the weekly demonstrations near the border. Last week, 25-year-old Palestinian Bader Adin Abu Musa was shot and killed near Khan Yunis during the protests. (Jerusalem Post)

Trump’s Mideast Peace Deal Doesn’t Depend on His Departing Envoy

by Eli Lake, Bloomberg News

American envoys charged with negotiating a peace between Israel and the Palestinians typically leave their posts after months or years of fruitless negotiations. Not Jason Greenblatt, who has the distinction of leaving before negotiations have even started.

Part of the reason is that this particular peace process has been a long tease. Ever since President Donald Trump bloviated in 2017 about the “deal of the century,” there has been lots of speculation and almost no details. To date, the only thing put forward by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is an elaborate promise of investment and development for Palestinians on the condition that they make peace with Israel.

That said, it may be a mistake to read too much into Greenblatt’s departure. White House officials tell me he only signed up for two years to promote the Trump peace plan. What’s more, Kushner and his team have completed their statement of “political vision,” but will not unveil it until Israel has a new government following this month’s elections. So the tease continues.

I have no doubt that there is such a document. The problem is that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are ready to talk. In the 1990s, when Middle East peace negotiations really mattered, there were moments where one could have said the same thing. Nonetheless, there were negotiations and interim agreements.

A big difference between then and now is that the incentives have changed for Israel. After the end of the Cold War, Israel’s only hope for recognition from most of its Arab neighbors — Egypt and Jordan excepted — was a two-state solution. Now the Gulf monarchies are in a regional struggle with Iran, so Israel has developed quiet but robust security relationships with countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The promise of normalization is steadily being achieved with no end in sight to the conflict with the Palestinians.

Add to this the rest of the Trump administration’s Israel policy. The president has moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and accepted a new Israeli policy to attack Iran and its proxies throughout the Levant, most recently in Iraq. Past U.S. presidents have usually offered benefits to Israel in exchange for concessions in the peace process.

Another reason peace is not around the corner is that there is no Palestinian leader at the moment with the democratic credibility to negotiate it even if he were so inclined. Gaza remains under the sovereignty of Hamas, which rejects any Jewish state. The Palestinian Authority — which ostensibly governs the West Bank — meanwhile is run by the 83-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, who is currently serving the 14th year of a four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas has negotiated before with Israeli leaders. But he has never been able to get to a deal. Even if he did, there is little reason to believe most Palestinians would accept it. A recent poll conducted by the Aman Coalition found that 91 percent of Palestinians said they do not trust the Palestinian Authority. Given that, noted Ghaith al-Omari, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, it’s difficult to see how its leaders will have the legitimacy to make any concessions.

Privately, U.S. officials who have worked on the Trump peace plan acknowledge this problem. They understand that there will have to be governance and anti-corruption reform for a future Palestinian state to be viable. By unveiling his economic program before his political document, Kushner hopes to create public pressure on Palestinian leaders.

Kushner and his team are not the first American diplomats to grasp this problem. The administration of George W. Bush promoted Abbas initially as an alternative to the late Yasser Arafat precisely because they saw him as someone who would promote reform as well as peace. The difference between the Bush and Trump approach is that Bush also pressed Abbas to stand for an election. How could Abbas make peace on behalf of the Palestinian people if he did not have a democratic mandate?

But the push for elections did not work out. In 2006, Hamas ended up winning legislative elections. Abbas and his Fatah party tried to prevent them from taking positions within the Palestinian Authority, but Hamas ended up ousting the Palestinian Authority from Gaza. To this day, Palestinians lack a unified leadership.

The results have been tragic. Every few years there is a small war between Israel and Gaza. There have been no real peace negotiations, despite the best efforts from U.S. presidents. Meanwhile, both Hamas and Fatah have enriched themselves at the expense of the people they are supposed to govern.

Kushner and Greenblatt didn’t create these problems, they inherited them. So it’s unfair to blame them for failing to get peace talks started again. It is fair, on the other hand, to blame them for failing to address the legitimacy crisis in Palestinian leadership.

It’s quite possible, of course, that Palestinians could vote for new leaders who choose war over peace. But that’s not a good reason to oppose Palestinian elections. Think of it this way: Half of the Palestinian leadership rejects peace. The other half is corrupt and powerless. The best way to improve this state of affairs is to give Palestinians the chance — on a regular basis — to elect new leaders who not only want peace but are capable of delivering it.

Video: An Arab Muslim in the Israel Defense Forces

Mohammad Kabiya is a Bedouin Muslim Israeli. “I’m an Israeli citizen, it’s my country and I must support it….I get all the services from Israel. Israel protects me as a minority and as a citizen, so I will support my country. I will love it and defend it.”

Q: “You served in the Israeli Air Force. Why did you choose to take part in the Israel Defense Forces?”

A: “Here, you said it: ‘Israel Defense Forces.’ I see myself as an Israeli. I’m part of the State of Israel, so it’s an army that defends me, my family, my community, and also my country. The same rocket that is fired by Hamas or Hizbullah and all the terror organizations doesn’t distinguish between a Jew or an Arab or me and you.”

“Whoever is a terrorist and engages in terrorism…is not my brother…. Terrorism is hate, it’s destruction, it’s cruelty. I’m Muslim – yes. I’m proud of my Islam – yes….I’m an Arab who is proud of his identity….Look at the Arab world. Muslims are killing one another just because one is Shiite and the other is Sunni. In the State of Israel I think that Islam and other religions and other minorities are more protected than in the Arab world.”

“We serve together in the IDF shoulder to shoulder, we work together, we walk in the street together…we live together. In a place where you die together you can live together.”

Q: “Aren’t you scared to express your support for Israel, that someone will kill you?”

A: “No, I’m not scared….My source of strength and bravery to continue and move forward is my family. I’m a member of the Kabiya family, most of whose men served in the IDF. They are officers in elite units. Therefore, it’s the opposite. They support the path that I’ve chosen.” (YouTube)