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Latest News in Israel – 4th April

Kfar Kassem woman arrested for suspected stabbing attack in Rosh Ha’ayin

A woman from Kafr Kassem stabbed and lightly wounded a 30-year-old Israeli woman in Rosh Ha’ayin before she was overpowered and disarmed by a security guard and two civilians who rushed to the scene.

The wounded woman was taken to Beilinson Hospital with a stab wound to her shoulder. She was listed as “lightly wounded,” police said.

According to Central District Police, at 1:04 p.m. they received a distress call about a stabbing on HaMalacha Street in Rosh Ha’ayin and arrested a 23-year-old woman from the city of Kafr Kassem – next door to Rosh Ha’ayin – who was being restrained by three civilians.

Police said the security guard told them he was working at an office building in the area when he heard shouting and saw a woman on the street downstairs holding a knife and trying to shout at another woman. Police said he told them he pulled his gun and pressed it to the woman’s head and then along with two other civilians he managed to force the woman to the ground and pull the knife from her hand. They also found another knife on her body, police said.

The attacker has been taken for questioning, though police said by 2:30 p.m. they had yet to determine if the stabbing was a terror attack or a random criminal assault.

Eli Pechter, an MDA medic who treated the victim, described the scene of the attack: “When I arrived at the scene, security forces led the injured woman to the ambulance. She was fully conscious and suffering from a stab wound to her extremities. I immediately administered first aid to her, including dressing the wound and stopping her bleeding. I quickly evacuated her to Beilinson hospital in good and stable condition.”               (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli Navy sinks suspected smuggling boat off of Gaza coast

Israel’s Navy sunk a suspected smuggling boat that was approaching the coast of the Gaza Strip overnight on Saturday, an army spokesperson said.

The IDF spotted a suspicious fishing boat loaded with sacs approaching Gaza from the direction of Egypt and called for the vessel to stop. The IDF fired warning shots in the air and in the water but the boat continued on its course. The Israeli forces noticed that the crew began to throw the contents of the boat overboard and then the crew itself jumped into the sea. The boat continued moving at which point the IDF opened fire and sank it.

On Friday it was reported that Israel was planning to ease some of the restrictions placed on fishing operations off the coast of Gaza, AFP cited the head of the Palestinian fishing union as saying.

According to remarks by Nizar Ayyash, the move set to take effect on Sunday afternoon will see the distance fishing vessels are permitted to travel extended from six to nine nautical miles off the coast of southern Gaza.

He added that in the waters off of northern Gaza the six-mile restriction is due to stay in place.

The report cited Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) as saying that Israel’s Navy had made the decision “to expand fishing south of Wadi Gaza (located south of Gaza City) from six to nine miles” had been made ahead of the coming fishing season.

AFP reported that according to COGAT estimates, the decision could lead to a NIS 400,000 annual increase to Gaza’s economy.

Since 2007, Israel and Egypt have imposed a naval blockade of the coastal Palestinian territory for security reasons.   (Jerusalem Post)

‘We have four Israeli prisoners of war in our custody,’ Hamas says

The Islamist group Hamas publicly acknowledged on Friday that it is holding the remains of two Israeli soldiers and also has in its custody two Israeli nationals who went missing in the Gaza Strip.

The group’s military wing, Izzadin Kassam Brigades, released a televised statement through official Hamas media in Gaza on Friday saying Israel will have to make concessions if it wants the Islamist organization to provide information about the conditions of the “four prisoners of war.”

The Hamas spokesperson assailed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and denied that the organization was considering the release of the four Israelis.

“Netanyahu is lying to his people with his statements and he is pulling the wool over the eyes of the parents of the soldiers in our custody,” said Abu Abeida, the Izzadin Kassam spokesperson. “There are no negotiations [with Israel] over prisoners.”

Last year, reports in Arab language media indicated that Hamas made two key demands of Israel as a condition for their release.

The first demand was for Israel to release the Palestinians that were freed in the Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange and were returned to prison following the kidnapping of the three Jewish teenagers in the days prior to the 2014 war.

The second condition is that any talks between Israel and Hamas over a swap not be linked to any other issue that remains unresolved between the two parties.

4 POW's[1]

Al Aksa TV footage of Hamas military wing showing images of four Israeli “POWs”.

Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Their remains remain in Hamas hands in Gaza.

Another Israeli, Avraham Mengistu, who has been described in press reports as “emotionally unstable,” wandered into Gaza in 2014 and has not been seen since.

Mengistu was 29 when he disappeared and was suffering from severe depression. Israel’s Defense Ministry believes that Mengistu was held by Hamas after illegally crossing the border, but the Islamist movement governing Gaza has provided no information about his whereabouts or condition.

The other missing Israeli national believed to be alive in Gaza is a Beduin from the Negev whose identity has yet to be revealed.

A relative of the missing youth said last year that “he crossed the border once to Jordan, once to Egypt and once to Gaza – in February 2010 – and in all three cases he was returned to the family. The fourth time he must have entered Gaza again and didn’t return.”

The missing youth’s relative claimed that “nobody in the security forces shared information with the family on this incident.” He added that the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has brought the youth home from Egypt and Gaza in the past. “I hope that he is in Gaza again and that he will come back to us in peace,” the relative said. “He is mentally ill and this is not the first time he’s gone missing.”            (Jerusalem Post)

Egypt asks Hamas about status of ‘four Israeli prisoners of war’

Egypt has asked the Islamist organization Hamas for information regarding the status of “four Israeli prisoners of war” the terrorist group claimed were in their custody earlier this week, Arab media reported Sunday.

According to Egyptian daily Al-Arab Aljadid, Egyptian sources with direct knowledge of the ongoing situation said that a Hamas delegation sent to Cairo this week was asked about the four Israelis who died in action or went missing in Gaza.

Palestinian officials from the coastal enclave are in Egypt in an effort to rebuild tattered relations between the two parties.

Israeli officials said that Egypt and the Jewish state have enjoyed “the best relationship since the signing of their peace accord” in 1979, and remain optimistic that any new information Cairo receives will be passed along.

On Friday, Hamas said that it is holding the remains of two Israeli soldiers and also has in its custody two Israeli nationals who went missing in the Gaza Strip.

The group’s military wing, Izzadin Kassam Brigades, released a televised statement through official Hamas media in Gaza on Friday saying Israel will have to make concessions if it wants the Islamist organization to provide information about the conditions of the “four prisoners of war.”

The Hamas spokesperson assailed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and denied that the organization was considering the release of the four Israelis.

“Netanyahu is lying to his people with his statements and he is pulling the wool over the eyes of the parents of the soldiers in our custody,” said Abu Abeida, the Izzadin Kassam spokesperson. “There are no negotiations [with Israel] over prisoners.”

Last year, reports in Arab language media indicated that Hamas made two key demands of Israel as a condition for their release.

Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Their remains remain in Hamas hands in Gaza.

Another Israeli, Avraham Mengistu, who has been described in press reports as “emotionally unstable,” wandered into Gaza in 2014 and has not been seen since.

Mengistu was 29 when he disappeared and was suffering from severe depression. Israel’s Defense Ministry believes that Mengistu was held by Hamas after illegally crossing the border, but the Islamist movement governing Gaza has provided no information about his whereabouts or condition.

The other missing Israeli national believed to be alive in Gaza is a Beduin from the Negev whose identity has yet to be revealed.

A relative of the missing youth said last year that “he crossed the border once to Jordan, once to Egypt and once to Gaza – in February 2010 – and in all three cases he was returned to the family. The fourth time he must have entered Gaza again and didn’t return.”

The missing youth’s relative claimed that “nobody in the security forces shared information with the family on this incident.” He added that the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has brought the youth home from Egypt and Gaza in the past. “I hope that he is in Gaza again and that he will come back to us in peace,” the relative said. “He is mentally ill and this is not the first time he’s gone missing.”  (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu to Kerry: Declare Israel doesn’t commit extrajudicial killings

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked John Kerry to publicly state that Israel does not carry out extrajudicial killings, after a group of U.S. lawmakers asked the secretary of state to investigate such claims.

Meanwhile, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the lead lawmaker making the request, rebuked Netanyahu for his initial response to the revelation of the letter, saying the Israeli leader misunderstood the relevant law, which requires defunding military units underwritten by U.S. government funds should they be found in violation of U.S. human rights norms.

The Times of Israel reported that Netanyahu made the call to Kerry Friday.

Netanyahu said in a statement Wednesday that the February letter by Leahy and 10 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives calling for an investigation of alleged human rights abuses by his nation’s military should instead be directed at Palestinian inciters.

“Israel’s soldiers and police officers defend themselves and innocent civilians with the highest moral standards against bloodthirsty terrorists who come to murder them,” said the statement.

“Where is the concern for the human rights of the many Israelis who’ve been murdered and maimed by these savage terrorists? … This letter should have been addressed instead to those who incite youngsters to commit cruel acts of terrorism.”

Leahy, responding Thursday to Netanyahu, said there was no parallel, because the United States does not fund Hamas and other terrorist groups targeting Israel.

“The Prime Minister of Israel knows – and it should go without saying – that the United States does not provide weapons or other aid to Hamas or any other terrorist group, and that no nation more strongly condemns and works to eradicate terrorism worldwide than does the United States,” he said in a statement.

“There are multiple laws prohibiting such aid to Hamas and other such groups, and one reason Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid is to help defend against terrorist attacks.”

Leahy also said the law underpinning the letter’s request, which he authored and is named after him, targets specific military units, not entire countries, and only when it is established that the government in question has not adequately investigated the alleged abuses.

“The Leahy Law, which has existed for nearly 20 years, applies uniformly, worldwide – no country is exempt – and it applies to specific military personnel and units, not to general security forces, when U.S. aid is involved,” he said.

“It has led to the suspension of U.S. aid to military personnel and units found to have committed abuses in many countries when governments fail to punish those responsible, and only when those governments themselves have failed to act … This is only fair to U.S. taxpayers, and it is necessary in upholding the rule of law that our country stands for.”

First reported by Politico, the February letter from lawmaker to Kerry cites Amnesty International reports alleging the “extrajudicial killings” of at least four Palestinians, men and women. Among those named are Fadi Alloun, who stabbed a 15-year-old Jewish teen in Jerusalem and was shot and killed during the chase to apprehend him; Saad Al-Atrash, who was shot and killed as he tried to stab a soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron, and Hadeel Hashlamoum, a Palestinian woman who was shot to death after arriving at a Hebron checkpoint with a knife.

The letter also asks Kerry to investigate similar allegations in Egypt.               (JTA)

Two Israelis wounded in Brussels attack flown to Israel

Two Israelis who were wounded in the terror attacks in Brussels last week were flown to Israel Thursday night and hospitalized at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood.

The two, identified by Israeli ultra-Orthodox media as Chaim Winternitz and Mendy Farkash, members of the Belz Hasidic sect in their 20s, were injured in Brussels’ airport, where they were waiting to board a flight to Israel.

Israeli media reported Thursday that the two were in moderate, stable condition, and were suffering from injuries to their limbs. They are reportedly undergoing treatment in the intensive-care and orthopedic units, and are likely to be released in the coming days.

The two, brothers-in-law from Jerusalem, were in Brussels for the funeral of a relative, ultra-Orthodox media reported. They were flown back to Israel by their insurance company, Ynet reported.

Thirty-two people were killed and 340 were injured in bombings at Brussels airport and the Belgian capital’s metro on March 22.

Another of the casualties of the attack, a Belgian Jew who lost a leg, has said he will immigrate to Israel.

“I probably will pack my things, get on a plane and start looking for a small apartment in Israel,” he told Israel’s Channel 2 on Sunday, adding that he wants to be near his daughter, who lives there, until she enlists in the Israeli army. “That’s the most important thing in life for me.”

The airport, closed since its departure hall was wrecked in the attacks, said it had received the go-ahead from fire services and the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority “for a partial restart of passenger flights.”

“The airport is thus technically ready for a restart,” it said in a statement Thursday. “However, the authorities have yet to take a formal decision on the restart date. Until Friday evening, no passenger flights will take place at Brussels Airport.”

In a bid to end the travel chaos caused by the closure of an important European air hub, hundreds of staff staged drills this week to test temporary check-in facilities as well as enhanced security measures.

Under the temporary arrangements, Zaventem airport would be able to handle 800 departing passengers per hour — around 20 percent of normal capacity, it said.    (The Times of Israel)

UN censors Israeli exhibition featuring Zionism and Jerusalem

An exhibition initiated by Israel’s permanent mission to the United Nations with the organization StandWithUs and expected to open at the UN headquarters on Monday, was partially censored by the international body this weekend.

Three out of 13 displays put together for the exhibition were disqualified by the UN, including one about Jerusalem, another about Israeli Arabs and a third about Zionism.

The Jerusalem poster presents the city as the spiritual and physical capital of the Jewish people. It shows pictures of holy sites and states that “the Jewish people are indigenous to Israel and have maintained a continuous presence in the land since 1000 BC. Jerusalem has been the center and focus of Jewish life and religion for more than three millennia and is holy to Christians and Muslims as well.”

The display on Israeli Arabs explains that they are “the largest minority in Israel, making up 20 percent of Israel’s population” and describes them as “equal citizens under the law in Israel.”

Finally, the third display defines Zionism as “the liberation movement of the Jewish people, who sought to overcome 1,900 years of oppression and regain self-determination in their indigenous homeland.”

Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon demanded on Sunday that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reverse the decision to disqualify these posters and said that “by disqualifying an exhibition about Zionism the UN is undermining the very existence of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.”

The Israeli mission pointed out that UN General Assembly reversed in 1991 a resolution equating Zionism with racism, which had passed 16 years earlier, and said that with the decision to censor the displays “the UN is de facto enacting this old resolution, defining Zionism and Jerusalem as ‘unacceptable,’ and disqualifying key elements of the heritage of the Jewish people.”

“The UN must reverses this outrageous decision and apologize to the Jewish people,” Danon added. “Zionism and Jerusalem are the foundation stones and the moral basis upon which the State of Israel was founded.

“We will not allow the UN to censor the fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital,” he continued.

The organization Stand- WithUs, which provided the displays, said “anti-Israel resolutions in the main bodies of the UN have become a sad, albeit common, phenomenon.”

“The UN has once again exposed its deep bias against the State of Israel,” Shahar Azani, executive director of StandWithUs, said. “This display is meant to educate and share Israel’s inspirational story with the world.”

Azani pointed out that the same displays have been shown numerous times in the United States and abroad, in synagogues and churches, and at campuses and community events.

“It is a shame that the values of the UN, an institution meant to promote values of dialogue and tolerance, have been distorted, deeming the organization today unrecognizable to its original intents,” he said.

The permanent mission of Israel to the UN announced it will put together a protest exhibition in response, including the banned elements, on Monday.     (Jerusalem Post)

Abbas: We are searching schools, in one 70 children had knives

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday he was working to stop Palestinian knife attacks and other street violence against Israel and had offered to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to rekindle peace efforts.

The remarks appeared to be an effort by the Western-backed Abbas to turn the tables on Israel, which has cast him as responsible for the diplomatic deadlock and the surge of bloodshed.

Speaking to Channel 2 TV, Abbas gave rare details on his domestic security drives, a touchy matter as many Palestinians deem such moves collaboration with their enemy.

“Our security forces go into the schools to search pupils’ bags and see if they have knives. You don’t know this,” he said.

“In one school, we found 70 boys and girls who were carrying knives. We took the knives and spoke to them and said: ‘This is a mistake. We do not want you to kill and be killed. We want you to live, and for the other side to live as well.'”

Abbas’s administration and Israel coordinate security in the West Bank despite the stalling two years ago of US-sponsored negotiations on Palestinian statehood.

Netanyahu says he is open to renewing talks and that Abbas has been avoiding these while inciting violence with his rhetoric against Israel.

But Abbas told Channel 2 that the onus was on Netanyahu.

“I will meet with him, at any time. And I suggested, by the way, for him to meet,” the Palestinian leader said in English.

Asked what became of that overture, Abbas said: “No, no – it’s a secret. He can tell you about it.”

Netanyahu’s office had no immediate response.

Since October, Palestinian stabbings, car-rammings or gun ambushes have killed 28 Israelis and two U.S. citizens. At least 190 Palestinians, 129 of whom Israel says were assailants, have been killed by its forces. Many others were shot in clashes.

Abbas’ Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under 1993 interim peace deals. Israeli forces now freely operate in PA areas, something Abbas described as sapping his credibility at home. He said he was willing to take action against Palestinians that Israeli intelligence deems a threat.

“If he (Netanyahu) gives me responsibility and tells me that he believes in (the) two-state solution and we sit around the table to talk about (the) two-state solution, this will give my people hope, and nobody dares to go and stab or shoot or do anything here or there,” Abbas said.

Netanyahu has said he would favor the creation of a Palestinian state as long as Israel’s terms are met such as its security needs. Whether Abbas could vouchsafe the Gaza Strip is in doubt, as it is under the de facto control of armed Hamas Islamists who oppose permanent coexistence with Israel.            (Jerusalem Post)

German intelligence spied on Israeli PM

The German Federal Intelligence Service, BND, has been spying on Israel, particularly on the Prime Minister’s Office, in recent years, according to a report Saturday in German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel.

This comes after Germany’s vocal opposition to “spying among friends,” which followed the release of the Edward Snowden report that revealed that the U.S. had been spying on allies, including German chancellor Angela Merkel.

According to the Der Spiegel report, the Germans also spied on the U.S. State Department, the American Air Force, the International Monetary Fund, NASA, the Austrian Interior Ministry, the Belgian Interior Ministry, the British Defense Ministry, various U.N. bodies, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The report did not address when or how the spying took place, what its purposes were or whether it was successful.

Three years ago, it was revealed that the Germans were spying on their allies within the European Union, a practice the BND pledged to stop. However, the latest report indicates that the promise may have been nothing more than lip service.

Israel has widespread intelligence cooperation with Germany, particularly on issues related to counterterrorism.

Earlier this year, there was a report of a joint multi-year operation between the Americans and British to spy on Israeli Air Force activities and drones. The operation, called Anarchist, began in 1998.

A number of reports over the years have also said Israel has spied on the United States, even after Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard was caught and convicted. Israel has denied all such reports.

Over the past few months, there have been several reports of increased American surveillance of IDF activities and of the IAF in particular during the Iran nuclear deal negotiations, out of concern that Israel would launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear sites. American officials did not confirm or deny the reports.   (Israel Hayom)

Star of David found engraved into an ancient Temple arouses controversy in Egypt

Star of David[1]

The Sign of David engraving found in the Aswan shrine.

Egypt has recently been witnessing a great commotion following the archeological discovery of two Star of David engravings in an ancient Temple in the southern city of Aswan.

The Roman Temple, which dates back to the 3rd century B.C, is located in the Elephantine Island in Aswan.

Dr. Mahmoud Afifi, the head of the Egyptian Antiquities branch in the Antiquities Ministry, said that he noticed a stone with two Star of David engravings in the Roman temple.

Afifi accused the delegation of German archaeologists that has been working on the site’s reconstruction of engraving the Stars of David into the Shrine’s stone.

Afifi ordered the archaeologists to immediately remove the stone with the Star of David’s engraving from the temple, threatening to take all legal measures against them if they would ever repeat such a move.

An Egyptian news site, Suezbalady, went even further, claiming that the two Star of David engravings that were found were drawn by a Jewish member of the German delegation, who wanted to vandalize Egyptian culture and provoke Egyptians.

The newly-appointed Egyptian Antiquities Minister, Khaled Anani, released a press statement Saturday following his visit to the Aswan shrine.

Anani stated that he had instructed the joint Egyptian-German group to submit him a scientific report about the two engravings found on one of the temple’s walls. “The report will include a picture of the stone under discussion from the time it was discovered, to explore its archaeological repercussions without the two Star of David engravings, “Anani said.

“We will be aided by an expert of Islamic antiquities to understand whether the Sign of David was common in that early period”, Anani announced.                  (Jerusalem Post)

Paris exhibit ‘opens doors’ to Israel

Diplomats, French officials, actors, artists and leaders of the Jewish community gathered at the Carousel du Louvre for the launching of an unusual exhibit, titled “Open a Door to Israel.”

The exhibit is composed of nine doors, each in a different color and design, all opening into huge interactive screens.

“This exhibit is the fruit of two and a half years of work and an investment of NIS 3.5 million, as a joint venture of our ministry and the Ministry for Strategic Affairs,” Joel Lion, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Public and Academic Affairs Department, explained on Wednesday.

“The idea was to bring Israel, to bring Israelis to the world, for people to view the Israeli experience. When the idea first came up, we defined nine values; nine characteristics of Israeli society, and each of these elements became a door to be opened.”

Lion, the proud father of the exhibit, opens a blue door – the Israeli family door.

Inside, punching a button will shift screens among different Israeli families. The Zarum family, for instance, was filmed on a Friday evening, with all its members gathering around the table for a traditional Sabbath diner. Another short video shows a typical Israeli fridge, full with local groceries such as humus, olives and cottage cheese.

Lion opens a red door for me. Here, I can play DJ with a real, small-size audio board connected to shifting screens, which are adapted to different sorts of Israeli music.

One video clip was shot at the most recent Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade. Another is taken from a traditional Jewish wedding, with the music and songs to match.

The most amusing door is probably the beach door. Visitors are offered an interactive paddle ball racket to play against a changing Israeli adversary on the beach screen. “Kids love it, and so do adults,” grins Lion.

Leora Hadar, the commercial attaché of the Israeli Embassy, encourages me to open the Israeli hi-tech door, where different Israeli companies feature global achievements.

With a touch of the hand we learn about telecommunication gadgets, computerized watering systems, satellites and more.

Israeli Ambassador Aliza Bin-Noun, tells that many people in France and elsewhere connect Israel only with the Middle East conflict or to terrorist attacks. “It is our job to demonstrate the positive aspects of Israeli society. To offer people a small taste of us, of what we are alike, to awake their curiosity,” she says. She also notes that Israeli Innovation Day, featuring the best of Israeli hi-tech, will open here on April 6.

Judging by the crowd, the creative side definitely appeals to many. Famous French caricaturist Platnu opens one door after the other, followed by Filmmaker Alexandre Arcady and French actor Steve Suissa.

“After the BDS poster campaign at the London tube last month, we were not sure how our exhibit would be greeted,” an Israeli diplomat said. “We already put up posters last week in several metro stations announcing the exhibit without the slightest negative reaction,” he said. “I am sure that our Israeli doors will open many French hearts.”        (Jerusalem Post)

ISIS Makes the EU More Anti-Israel

by Evelyn Gordon           Commentary Magazine

https://www.commentarymagazine.com/foreign-policy/middle-east/israel/isis-makes-eu-more-anti-israel/

Like every major Islamist attack in Europe, last week’s terror attacks in Brussels left many Israelis wondering whether Europeans will finally understand what Israel faces. Unfortunately, such attacks are more likely to intensify anti-Israel activity in Europe. To understand why, it’s worth reading an article from the Islamic State magazine Al-Naba that propounds a surprising thesis: Jihad against Israel doesn’t take precedence over jihad anywhere else.

The article, translated by MEMRI, argued that the “Palestine first” slogan, which has reigned supreme for almost seven decades, has led good Muslims to ignore all the other places where jihad is no less necessary, or even more so. Indeed, it said, Muslims’ top priority should be purifying lands already under Islamic control, for both religious and practical reasons. Religiously speaking, “The apostate [tyrants] who rule the lands of Islam are graver infidels than [the Jews].” And practically speaking, defeating Israel won’t be possible without first destroying neighboring Arab regimes that are its “first line of defense.” Consequently, “Waging jihad with the aim of replacing the rule of the Jews with a regime like that of those who currently rule Gaza and the West Bank is jihad that is null and void,” because it would just replace infidel Jews with infidel Muslims.

But fighting Jews also doesn’t take precedence over “fighting the Crusaders and all the polytheists in the world,” the article stressed. In fact, “Muslims everywhere should fight the infidels nearest to them,” since that’s where they have the best chance of succeeding.

That last sentence sums up why Islamic State’s approach is Europe’s worst nightmare. For decades, Europe had a cushy arrangement: All the world’s jihadists were so fixated on Israel that they were willing to overlook longstanding hatreds against “Crusader” Europe, as long as Europe would help them wage war on Israel. As Manfred Gerstenfeld pointed out this week, many European countries — including Switzerland, Germany, France and Italy — tried to take advantage of this offer: They sought deals under which Palestinian terrorists could operate freely in their countries – usually without fear of arrest, but with swift release guaranteed if arrests were necessitated by American pressure – and in exchange, the terrorists wouldn’t attack those countries.

Not only did this largely protect Europe from jihadist terror, but it even seemed to avoid the main pitfall of most appeasement deals. The usual problem with appeasement is that the aggressor, after gobbling up the prey the appeaser threw him, then goes after the appeaser from an even stronger position, since one enemy is already out of the way. That, for instance, is what happened when Europe gave Hitler first the Sudetenland and then the rest of Czechoslovakia in 1938-39, only to see him turn around and gobble up the rest of Europe a year later.

But Israel, against all odds, showed no sign of collapsing; it kept getting stronger despite decades of unrelenting attacks. So to Europe, it must have seemed the perfect solution: The crocodile could keep attacking Israel forever, and Europeans would be permanently safe. All they had to do was make sure the beast remained fixated on Israel by maintaining a steady drumbeat of anti-Israel outrage.

Yet now, suddenly, that tactic no longer works – and like any weakling confronted with a bully, Europe is cravenly trying to divert the bully’s attention back to his former victim.

That’s precisely why Islamic State’s rise over the last few years has coincided with an upsurge in anti-Israel activity by European governments, including the European Union’s discriminatory decision to start labeling settlement products, moves by several European parliaments to recognize a Palestinian state, and France’s recent push for both an anti-Israel Security Council resolution and an international conference conducted under threat of recognizing “Palestine” if Israel doesn’t capitulate completely. All these are frantic efforts to restore the jihadist status quo ante – first, by refocusing world (and especially Muslim) attention on Israel, and second, by weakening Israel enough that it once again looks like a tempting target for jihadists, rather than one too strong to be tackled without first bringing down several other countries.

Eventually, a new generation of European politicians might figure out that this won’t work. Even if Islamic State is eventually pushed out of Syria and Iraq, its ideas are now loose in the jihadist universe and can’t be put back in the bottle; thus Europe would do better to team up with Israel against the common threat rather than helping the jihadists play divide and conquer. But for older politicians, veterans of decades in which diverting the crocodile’s attention to Israel actually worked, this paradigm shift will probably prove impossible. They are far more likely to keep escalating against Israel in a desperate effort to bring back those halcyon days when jihadists believed, as Al-Naba put it, “that no other issue should be raised until Palestine was liberated.”

And this brings us to the left’s standard recipe for improving relations with Europe – quitting the West Bank. As I’ve noted before, all available evidence rebuts the theory that territorial concessions can buy European love. But that’s doubly true if Europe is now seeking to divert the jihadists’ attention to Israel because it won’t be able to stop at giving them the West Bank. It will have to move on to encouraging them to attack pre-1967 Israel, which the jihadists also consider “occupied territory,” for the same reason Europe had to give Hitler the rest of Czechoslovakia six months after giving him the Sudetenland. Appeasement requires keeping the crocodile fed, so once he’s gobbled up one juicy tidbit, you have to throw him another.

In short, Israel’s relations with Europe will probably get much worse before they get better, if they ever do. All it can do is protect itself from the fallout as best it can by continuing to bolster economic and diplomatic ties with the rest of the world.

IDF using Gaza truce to prepare for future Hamas surprises

Power struggle between group’s military and political wings means all options are open.

by Yaacov   Lappin               The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/IDF-using-Gaza-truce-to-prepare-for-future-Hamas-surprises-449948

Once battered by Gazan rockets and shells, the southern border region is experiencing its quietest period in many years.

Beneath the surface, the IDF is taking many steps, most of them covert, to prepare for any surprises Hamas may attempt to spring on the South. It appears as if these steps are contributing to the current calm, for now, by deterring Hamas from risking a massive Israeli response.

The border area between northern Gaza and Israel is under the jurisdiction of the Northern Brigade of the IDF’s Gaza Division, which has not been resting on its laurels during this incident-free time.

On the civilian front, a blossoming is under way. The area has seen record numbers of new residents moving to villages and kibbutzim that were once considered war zones. Farmers work their lands right up to the Gaza border under the watchful eye of the IDF, and a recent festival in the area drew over 100,000 revelers.

Youths spend the weekends in tents on Zikim Beach, which was under constant fire in 2014, when Hamas commandos attempted to land from the sea and massacre Israelis.

The IDF tries not to disrupt this normality with too heavy a presence, but it stealthily inserts its forces into areas that allow it to call upon speedy firepower in incidents.

Nestled between trees in the birch forests of the area, Merkava tanks could lay in wait, out of view but not out of the minds of Hamas, which likely suspects their hidden presence, though not their precise locations. Further back, artillery lies ready to go into action at any time.

On the border, Combat Intelligence units gather information 24 hours a day, feeding it to control centers. Radars and cameras feed the control rooms.

The Northern Brigade maintains a large quantity of firepower at the ready, and often shifts them around to keep its cards close to its chest.

On the other side of the border, in Shejaia, elsewhere in Gaza City, and Jabalya, Hamas men with anti-tank missiles stare back. Hamas armed members in border positions closely watch IDF movements, often armed with AK-47 rifles.

Yet Hamas appears to have reached the understanding that something fundamental has changed since 2014, and that Israel has abandoned the idea of containing any future “drizzle” of rockets from it. That could be why Hamas has not fired a single rocket or shell at Israel since the truce went into effect.

The military wing is using the quiet to rebuild itself, and of course, to rebuild its tunnel network. Israel’s counter-measures to the tunnel threat remain a closely guarded secret, but it appears fair to assume that the IDF is doing everything in its considerable power to develop solutions to tunnels.

Every southern resident who has reported hearing building received a visit from military officials, and so far, after many checks, no digging has been found to occur in such cases.

The smaller jihadist organizations do not stick to the understandings in place between Hamas and Israel. They sometimes fire a rocket at Israel, prompting the IAF to punish Hamas in response. If one of those rockets cause casualties in Israel in the future, that would precipitate a stronger reply from Israel against Hamas, which in turn could lead Hamas to get involved.

Such a development would spell the end of the cease-fire.

Another threat to the truce is the ongoing power struggle under way between Hamas’s military and political wings. The outcome of this struggle could have a direct influence on developments on the ground.

In the meantime, travelers and cyclists continue to flock to the area every weekend, and farmers work their land in peace.

The IDF remain on high, discreet alert, investigating every suspicious activity it detects, multiple times a day. And Hamas appears aware of the changes under way, holding its fire, and rebuilding its capabilities for the day that the quiet comes to an end.

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