Arab teen girls stab security guard in terror attack at Ramle Central Bus Station
Two teenage Arab girls with knives stabbed and wounded a security guard at the entrance to the Ramle bus station in a terror attack on Thursday.
Security forces arrested the two teens following the stabbing in the central Israeli city that has significantly mixed Jewish and Arab population.
Magen David Adom paramedics provided initial medical treatment to the wounded man in his 20s before he was evacuated to Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin.
According to initial investigations, the one of the Arab minors arrived at the scene with a school bag.
When the teens reached a metal detector at the transit hub, a security guard asked them to provide identification, following which they pulled out knives and stabbed the guard in the leg and arm.
Senior MDA paramedic Shlomo Elkasalsi recounted the events at the scene where he provided initial treatment to the stabbing victim before ambulances arrived.
“While walking around the mall, I suddenly heard shouts of “terrorists, terrorists” and I rushed to the scene where I noticed a young man about 25-years of age fully conscience with several stab wounds to his limbs,” said Elkasalsi.” (Jerusalem Post)
Wave of arrests in West Bank’s Kabatiya, after deadly Jerusalem attack
Security forces made a number of arrests in Kabatiya overnight between Wednesday and Thursday, operating in the West Bank village near Jenin from which three Palestinian terrorists launched a deadly gun and knife attack on Border Police officers in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
The IDF has placed the village under a semi-closure, allowing all humanitarian goods and passage, but placing restrictions on ordinary movements by residents in and out of Kabatiya.
Security forces also made preparations to demolish the homes of the three terrorists, by mapping out their houses, questioning their family members and collecting possible evidence.
The three terrorists were identified as Ahmed Rajeh Zakarneh, Muhammad Ahmed Kmail, and Ahmed Najeh Abu al-Rub – all from Kabatiya.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened top security officials Wednesday evening and decided to surround the terrorists’ home village and conduct arrests, as well as reinforce troops in Samaria. The security establishment, including the IDF and police were set to provide additional support for reserve forces previously mobilized in the West Bank.
In the attack Wednesday at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, a 19-year-old border policewoman was killed and another female officer critically wounded by the three Arab terrorists wielding machine guns, pipe bombs and knives.
All three assailants were shot dead at the scene. Their explosives did not detonate and were later neutralized by a police bomb disposal team.
Border Police Cpl. Hadar Cohen, 19, died of her wounds shortly after being rushed to Hadassah-University Medical Center at Mount Scopus. Her unidentified partner was seriously wounded and underwent emergency surgery there. On Thursday, the Jerusalem hospital treating the partner said her condition had improved to moderate.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, who was at the scene, described the violence as a planned attack. (Jerusalem Post)
Abbas meets with families of terrorists shortly after policewoman killed
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday held a meeting with family members of terrorists who had carried out attacks against Israelis during a wave of violence which began in September of last year, according to Arab media reports.
The meeting, held just hours after a 19-year-old border policewoman was killed at Damascus Gate in the Old City, invited 11 families of “martyred sons” to the the PA president’s headquarters in Ramallah, Israeli daily Yediot Aronoth reported.
This included family members of Baha Alyan, who on October 13 boarded the number 78 Egged Bus in Jerusalem and proceeded to stab and shoot Jewish passengers. Alyan was subsequently shot and killed by police.
Haim Haviv, 78, Alon Govberg, 51, and Richard Lakin, 76, were murdered, and over a dozen other passengers were seriously wounded in the attack, which rattled the nation.
The family of Ala Abu Jamal, a resident of Jabal Mukaber, were also in attendance. Jamal, 33, drove his vehicle into a group of several people waiting at a bus stop. He then exited his car with a meat cleaver and began attacking the wounded and others with the implement.
Rabbi Yeshayahu Krishevsky, 60, was killed, apparently both from the vehicular attack and the axe wounds while two other people were seriously injured.
Just hours before the meeting, Border Police Cpl. Hadar Cohen was killed in a terror attack at the Damascus Gate in the Old City when three Arab terrorists, wielding machine guns, pipe bombs and knives, attacked her and another female guard. The second female border policewoman remains in critical condition.
All three assailants were shot dead at the scene. Their explosives did not detonate and were later neutralized by a police bomb disposal team.
Since September of last year, , Israel emergency medical services have treated victims in 91 rock throwing incidents, 83 stabbing incidents, 22 vehicle ramming attacks, and 15 shootings, according to MDA. Over two dozen Israelis have been killed during the same length of time (Jerusalem Post)
Damascus Gate killers planned to attack group of civilians, police believe
Israeli security officials said Wednesday’s fatal attack at the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, in which Border Police officer Hadar Cohen was killed and a second policewoman badly injured, marked “an escalation” in the ongoing terror wave.
The three West Bank Palestinians who stabbed and shot at the Israeli forces had been sitting and waiting for a large group of Israeli civilians to enter or leave the Old City, and had planned to target them, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported on Wednesday evening, citing police sources.
“As far as we can tell from the armaments, [the terrorists] planned a larger, more sophisticated attack,” Jerusalem Deputy Police Chief Avshalom Peled said. “This is an escalation from what we’ve seen thus far. The police officers prevented a combined and much larger attack.”
Husam Badran, an official with the Hamas terror group, also called the attack “a turning point,” apparently referring to its severity and sophistication during a terror wave that has mostly consisted of lone stabbers.
Two of the three attackers, who hailed from the northern West Bank, were spotted by the Border Police unit and were asked to identify themselves. As one pulled out an ID card, the second pulled out a knife, and attacked the policewomen. Then the first one pulled out a rifle from under his coat and opened fire on the policewomen.
At this point, the third attacker, waiting nearby, who had not previously been spotted, also began firing, Channel 2 said.
Police investigator near the bodies of Palestinian attackers at the scene of a shooting and stabbing attack near Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, February 3, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Cohen, 19, who was shot in the head, managed to return fire before collapsing.
Border Police officer Hadar Cohen, 19, was killed in a terror attack at Damascus Gate outside of Jerusalem’s Old City on February 3, 2016. (Israel Police)
Border Police officer Hadar Cohen, 19, was killed in a terror attack at Damascus Gate outside of Jerusalem’s Old City on February 3, 2016. (Israel Police)
The three terrorists were also found to be carrying explosive devices.
The police and Shin Bet were investigating whether the trio acted alone, or had been dispatched by an established terrorist organization. They were also trying to establish whether the trio traveled with their guns and explosives, or whether accomplices helped them once they were in Jerusalem.
One of three terrorists had vowed in a Facebook post to carry out a shooting attack, Channel 2 reported, ostensibly to avenge the killing of another Palestinian who attempted an attack at a border crossing in the northern West Bank last November.
The TV report said all three of the attackers were members of families associated with Fatah.
The three were identified by the Palestinian news agency Ma’an as Ahmad Rajeh Ismail Zakarneh, Muhammad Ahmad Hilmi Kamil and Najeh Ibrahim Abu al-Rub, all hailing from the village of Qabatiya near the West Bank city of Jenin (The Times of Israel)
‘We cannot allow Jerusalem to be a pilgrimage site for terrorists’
Following Wednesday’s bloody terrorist attack that took the life of a 19-year-old female Border Police officer and seriously wounded another young female officer, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Dov Kalmanovich requested that IDF troops help buttress security in the capital.
Deeming Wednesday’s attack a clear intensification in Jerusalem’s now four-month-long terror wave, Kalmanovich contended that the city’s police – already spread thin – need reinforcements to stem the increasingly coordinated violence.
“Today’s attack represents an escalation,” he said in a statement.
“When terrorists from Jenin come to Jerusalem armed with knives, guns, and explosives, we cannot continue to claim that it is individual terror. [The attacks] are clearly coordinated, and Jews being attacked every day for the last four months is not a coincidence.”
“It is time to act,” Kalmanovich continued. “As I have said before, we must act against terror and not just defend ourselves. We cannot allow Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, to become a pilgrimage site for terrorists.”
According to the deputy mayor, the unspecified number of troops must be deployed in every sector of the capital.
“There is a need to put military forces in the city at educational sites, to increase the actions of the security forces already spread around the city, and to apply our sovereignty over all parts of Jerusalem with an emphasis on the Old City,” he said.
“This will prevent incidents of organized attacks and terrorists carrying out their actions.”
It remains unclear if or when Kalmanovich’s proposal will be formally reviewed by the government. (Jerusalem Post)
Amid Israel protest, CBS amends ‘biased and dishonest’ terror attack headline
The Foreign Ministry moved swiftly on Wednesday to change what it termed a “horrible headline” the American CBS news outlet put on its story about the terrorist attack at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.
At about 4 p.m. the network’s website put the following headline on a story about the attack: “3 Palestinians killed as daily violence grinds on.” About
90 minutes later it was changed to this: “Israeli police kill 3 alleged Palestinian attackers.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said the original headline was “biased and dishonest,” and an example of “unparalleled chutzpah.”
The ministry, the Government Press Office and the National Information Directorate all worked to get the headline changed, he said.
The new headline, he said, “was not ideal, but better.”
The headline was later changed a third time, reading: “Palestinians kill Israeli officer, wound another before being killed.”
This is not the first time that the Foreign Ministry has protested headlines in the foreign media following terror attacks.
In November 2014, CNN apologized for mistakes in its coverage of a terror attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem.
CNN ran a ticker that read, “4 Israelis, 2 Palestinians dead in Jerusalem,” failing to note that the two Palestinians were the terrorists.
Later, CNN apologized for the headline, writing: “As CNN updated its reporting on the terrorist attack on the synagogue in Jerusalem earlier today, our coverage did not immediately reflect the fact that the two Palestinians killed were the attackers. We erred and regret the mistake.”
After the CNN incident, the Foreign Ministry issued a directive to its delegations around the world calling on them to immediately protest to media outlets distorting reports about the attack.
Nachshon at the time said that from Israel’s perspective, “tendentious reports and lies are meant to distort the reality, to defame Israel and in practice (if not always by intent) give a back-wind to terror.” (Jerusalem Post)
The Police Commissioner saluted wounded border policewoman who was injured in the terror attack in Jerusalem yesterday
Diplomatic cables reveal sharp increase in efforts to boycott Israel
The Foreign Ministry receives dozens of monthly reports from embassies abroad suggesting that the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel is increasing its campaign to isolate the country.
Ma’ariv has obtained a number of diplomatic cables about the growing phenomenon across Europe and the United States, which the ministry has received in recent days.
A cable from Spain described city councilors in Barcelona, home to extreme left-wing party CUP, that calls for Catalonia’s secession, as also calling to amend agreements with Israel and consider canceling a sister city designation with Tel Aviv.
“The request by CUP’s representatives in the city council to change existing agreements with Israel and to consider canceling existing agreements with Tel Aviv is worrisome. Of even greater concern is the ruling party’s answer that they will check the issue, because other organizations have already turned to them as well,” the cable said.
“In response to the claim that the agreement with Tel Aviv strengthens the occupation, the deputy mayor answered that this must be given the utmost consideration, without elaborating,” the cable went on to say.
It said that “the phenomenon of anti-Israeli activity in Spain is bothersome and worrisome, but in the past was centered in small cities.
When it arrives in Barcelona, and is voiced among elected officials, the subject takes on entirely different proportions.”
Pablo Sanchez, an adviser to Barcelona’s Mayor Ada Colau, offered an “encouraging” response, another cable says.
“After a philosophical speech on the meaning of boycott, he emphasized that this was not an immediate step, but admitted that the issue is indeed being considered.”
In the Belgian city of Liege, organizers of an annual dance festival turned down an Israeli sponsorship of the event last week after boycott threats.
Israel had initiated and offered to sponsor the festival after the Batsheva Dance troupe was chosen as an opening act.
But, “at a later stage,” a cable sent from the embassy in Belgium to the Israeli ministry reads, “they informed us that they did not want to be tied to the embassy, were forgoing our support and returning the money. All of this because of the threat of a boycott.
Protests made to the festival organizers failed to yield any results.”
From the US, the ministry received a report from Chicago last week that the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance’s event at a local LGBT conference had been canceled.
Representatives of the Jerusalem Open House had been invited to hold a special Friday evening prayer service and to speak, but were warned of a possible boycott.
In a cable from the Israeli delegation, diplomats described how they had been happy to help with the conference “without being in the forefront, and without Israeli flags in the building, as long as representatives from the Jerusalem Open House were given a chance to address the audience.”
Surprisingly, days before the event, organizers announced that they were canceling Israeli participation which they said was “dividing the community” and that they could not ensure participants’ safety. Soon after though they changed their decision, and Israeli representatives did arrive at the conference.
A subsequent cable from Chicago said that “after the Sabbath prayer service we made our way to the center where the conference was taking place. In front of the door to the building, some 400 noisy protesters awaited us, blocking our way. Ten minutes before the beginning of the conference, several pro-Palestinian activists burst into the building, bringing the event to a halt.”
Another disappointment awaited Israeli diplomats when authorities failed to thwart a regional conference held by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) last weekend at Emory University, in Georgia, a campus with the highest Jewish student population in the South.
The conference, according to a diplomatic cable, had intended to campaign against Christian support for Zionism and strengthen Christian-Palestinian ties.
“We were not surprised, unfortunately, by the absolute lack of willingness of Jewish students at Emory University to take action,” Israeli Foreign Ministry employees wrote of the incident.
The Foreign and Strategic Affairs Ministries marks last year’s Palestinian demand of FIFA to expel Israel, as a turning point when they understood that the rules in battling BDS had changed.
Those responsible for concentrating efforts to fight boycotts against Israel said this week they don’t know from which direction the next initiative may come.
“In the past, the boycott movement operated only in the political arena – protests in front of embassies and against members of parliament who support Israel,” a senior Foreign Ministry source said.
“Ever since [Fatah official] Jibril Rajoub appeared at the FIFA conference and pulled out a symbolic ‘red card’ for Israel, we see that the movement has moved in a more populist direction, probably because they noted that it garnered more attention and was more effective.”
Ministry sources say they are now confronted by different varieties of boycotts, and countering this activity is not easy.
“The boycott movement against Israel is building its case in every field, and we need to prepare counter-arguments, legal arguments and more. Our deployment on the ground is critical. We admit that the activity against boycotts is a case of version vs. version, word vs. word, but there is no substitute for diplomatic work on the ground,” a source said.
Senior officials at the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which has been given a budget of some NIS 100 million to handle the issue, said they were building a staff base they expect to become “an influential factor in the fight against boycotts and the delegitimization of Israel.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid accused the government of doing too little against the rise of BDS.
“These cables are arriving at a dead end,” Lapid told a conference on Tuesday organized by the financial newspaper, Globes.
“They land at the Foreign Ministry, which has no way of dealing with this material, because there are no ministers appointed to deal with it, and there is no clear foreign policy against BDS today,” Lapid maintained. (Jerusalem Post)
2015 third-worst year on record for UK anti-Semitic incidents, new figures show
The UK witnessed the third-highest number of anti-Semitic hate incidents in one year in 2015, according to figures from the Community Security Trust.
There were 924 incidents of anti-Semitism reported to either the CST or the police during the course of the year, the CST, a communal security organization for British Jews which also monitors anti-Semitism in the UK, said on Thursday.
This, however, constituted a 22 percent drop in incidents from 2014’s record high of 1,179 incidents, a spike CST attributed to the war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. Israeli military operations frequently lead to a spike in anti-Semitism in the UK and other European countries.
The CST said it noticed a particular surge in reports in January and February of 2015.
This could reflect increased concern over anti-Semitic incidents among British Jews and a greater willingness to report them following the terrorist attacks on a Jewish supermarket in France in January that year and at a the Great Synagogue in Copenhagen in February.
Of the 924 recorded anti-Semitic incidents, 86 were violent anti-assaults, an increase of 6 percent from 2014 and the highest number of violent incidents since 2011, four of which were classified as of “Extreme Violence,” meaning they involved potential grievous bodily harm or threat to life.
There were 65 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property; 685 incidents of abusive behavior, including verbal abuse, anti-Semitic graffiti, anti-Semitic abuse via social media and oneoff cases of hate mail; 76 direct anti-Semitic threats; and 12 cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails. All of these decreased from the 2014 totals.
The most common single type of incident in 2015 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public.
In 354 incidents, the victims were Jews, male or female, attacked or abused while going about their daily business in public places. In at least 161 of these incidents, the victims were visibly Jewish, usually due to their religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewelry bearing Jewish symbols.
“While a fall in anti-Semitic incidents should be welcomed, there are still too many cases of this type of hate crime,” British Home Secretary Theresa May said in response to the report. “We also know that these types of crimes are often underreported. We must give victims the confidence to coming forward to report these terrible acts.”
She said the UK government was working closely with the Jewish community and law enforcement agencies to reduce anti-Semitic incidents.
CST Chief Executive David Delew said: The fall in the number of incidents was expected but not as great as had been hoped in the absence of any significant trigger incident such as an Israeli military operation.
“We welcome the possibility that more people are reporting incidents to CST and the police, but the number of anti-Semitic incidents remains unacceptably high. The Jewish community has a right to expect anti-Semitism to be opposed wherever it occurs.
It should have no place in our society.”
British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey also welcomed the reduction in incidents but said the numbers were still unacceptable.
“These figures are still deeply concerning: Even one attack is one too many. Through the Cross-Government Working Group on anti-Semitism, which includes representatives from the government and the Jewish community, we are taking a number of practical steps to tackle anti-Semitism and support the community.
The Jewish community is a vital part of life in the UK. Its success, diversity and contribution to the country should be an inspiration for all.”
Last May, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to provide £11.9 million per year toward security requirements for Jewish schools and synagogues in Britain, while the police have entered into a national data sharing agreement with the CST to monitor anti-Semitism. (Jerusalem Post)
10,000 French immigrants expected to arrive in 2016
Aliya is expected to continue to grow in 2016, the Immigration Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency reported to the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee on Wednesday.
In 2015, immigration hit a 15-year high of nearly 30,000, and projections for 2016 bring the number to nearly 33,000, including 10,000 from France, 7,000 each from Russia and Ukraine, 3,000 from the US and a total of 1,500 from other English-speaking countries.
Arielle Di Porto, director of aliya at the Jewish Agency, said that most of those coming from France are young families with children. She also cited a 25 percent rise in immigration to Israel from Belgium in 2015.
Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee chairman Avraham Neguise (Likud) said the absorption of new immigrants is “a national mission and a window of Zionist, social and economic opportunities for the Jewish people, State of Israel and Israeli society.”
The numbers came up in a meeting about anti-Semitism in Europe.
Yogev Karsenti, manager of the Diaspora Affairs Ministry’s department on fighting anti-Semitism, said there were more attacks on Jews in 2015 than in any other recent year, 80 to 100% of which were perpetrated by Muslims.
Almost all of the anti-Semitic attacks came from Muslims who were born or educated in Europe, and not from refugees, he added.
In France, Karsenti said, 63% of Jews experienced anti-Semitism, and more than half of French Jews are considering leaving the country.
Karsenti criticized European governments for not effectively fighting anti-Semitism and said that there is a rise in European countries denying their part in the Holocaust.
“The best response to anti-Semitism is better absorption of immigrants,” MK Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beytenu), a former immigration and absorption minister, said.
“The full potential of French aliya has not yet been met.”
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, chief rabbi of Moscow and president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said: “European Jews are like a man on train tracks, with the train of radical Islam coming from one side and the anti-religious reaction of old Europe from the other.”
According to Goldschmidt, following last year’s attacks in Paris and other places in Europe, “Europe understands that Islamic terrorism is its problem, too, and not just Israel’s.”
Goldschmidt said central members of French Jewish communities are moving to Israel, and the wave of aliya will weaken those communities.
He called to strengthen them through educational and social activities.
Yury Kenner of the Russian Jewish Congress said Russia has a low level of anti-Semitism, and that it is on the decline, but that ultra-nationalist parties and messages in local media could lead Russian Jews to want to move to Israel.
“Unlike in Western Europe, the relationship between the Jewish and Muslim communities in Russia is good… except in the Caucasus, Dagestan and Chechnya,” Kenner said.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin suggested during a meeting with Jewish community leaders in the Kremlin that Western European Jews facing anti-Semitism move to Russia. (Jerusalem Post)
Roman-era canal system unearthed near Dead Sea
An ancient canal system used 2,000 years ago to irrigate terraced agricultural plots has been unearthed at an excavation near the Roman-era fortress Metzad Bokek in southern Israel conducted jointly by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
The system used gravity to carry water from the Ein Bokek spring to the terraces. The longest of the canals measures 2 kilometers (1.2 miles).
Noah Michael, the archaeologist directing the dig for the IAA, said that “the canal system, which connected irrigation pools and linked to an aqueduct that conducted water from the spring, was plastered and apparently covered. Signs of repairs evident in the plaster demonstrate that the system was in use for a long time during the Roman era.”
The ancient canals used gravity to channel water from the Ein Bokek spring
The IAA said: “The terraces were used to raise various crops that were apparently used in the process of creating the legendary persimmon perfume. That perfume was known far and wide, and researchers think that on these terraces, the persimmon plants themselves, which were different from the persimmon trees we know today, were grown.”
The area of the Dead Sea Valley in question, from Ein Gedi to Jericho, was the only place in the world where the persimmon was grown, making persimmon products extremely valuable in ancient times.
The persimmon perfume was produced by combining resin of persimmon with purified oil and sundry spices.
Preservation work is currently underway on the fortress and the western pool in preparation for the site being opened to visitors. (Israel Hayom)
Searching for signs of organized terrorism in Jerusalem
Security forces will check whether someone sent the three armed terrorists or whether they organized themselves
by Yaacov Lappin The Jerusalem Post
The Border Police officers who stopped three armed Palestinian terrorists in Jerusalem prevented a massacre, paying the heaviest price imaginable in carrying out their duties.
For the second time this week, Palestinians carried out gun attacks, marking a disturbing yet not surprising trend toward more firearms in the “mix” with stabbing and car-ramming incidents.
The three attackers from the Jenin area had been acting suspiciously near Damascus Gate as they prepared to launch their attacks, drawing the attention of alert and professional Border Police officers.
Security forces will now be focusing their investigation on the key question of whether the terrorists, armed with two automatic weapons, a handgun, pipe bombs as well as knives, got together and planned the attack on their own, or whether someone – a terrorist faction – armed them and provided instructions on when and where to strike.
According to Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) records, none of the three has previous security arrests or convictions, or known factional affiliations. Yet the question of whether their attack had been orchestrated by a group remained without a clear answer on Wednesday night. Since the wave of violence erupted in September, there have been a few previous cases of multiple attackers working together.
One example is the October gun and knife attack on a Jerusalem bus, in which one terrorist shot at passengers from the outside, while his accomplice launched a stabbing spree on board, killing two passengers.
Even before the four-month wave of terrorism began, two east Jerusalem Arabs went on a gun and ax attack on Jewish worshipers in a Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem in November 2014, murdering four civilians and a police officer.
Two gun attacks in one week is an escalation of such incidents, and it unfortunately is in line with IDF assessments that sooner or later, if efforts to calm the situation fail, more and more terrorists will take the form of gunmen, alongside the knife attackers.
“This will not end tomorrow. The wave of terrorism will continue – no one can predict for how long. We will encounter more shootings. It will not be an organized shift, but I expect to see more gun attacks,” a senior IDF source told The Jerusalem Post in December.
“Stabbings have not been very effective recently. They will try something else,” he warned at the time.
This week’s events have shown that the prediction is coming true, and the defense establishment, together with the government, will need to come up with new countermeasures soon.
Who Can Believe Mahmoud Abbas?
by Bassam Tawil The Gatestone Institute
As Hamas’s power increases, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its security services are gradually losing their control of the West Bank.
Both the Israelis and the Palestinians know that if the PA falls, the best case scenario is that Hamas will take over the West Bank. The worst case scenario is a welcome mat for ISIS.
After Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas threatened yet again that he would end security coordination with Israel, not only has he not ended it, but — luckily for him, as it turned out — it is now stronger than ever. The Israelis, it seems, exposed two separate Hamas networks in the West Bank, both of them planning a mass-casualty attack on Israel and the destruction of the rule of Mahmoud Abbas.
Mahmoud Abbas’s other threat, that he will dissolve the Palestinian Authority (PA), and force Israel to fill the resulting vacuum and incorporate its residents and territories into Israel, also turned out to be cow plop.
Both the Israelis and the Palestinians know that if the Palestinian Authority falls, the best case scenario is that Hamas will take over the West Bank, and the worst case scenario is a welcome mat for ISIS. The West Bank will either turn into an Islamic emirate, like the Gaza Strip, or another ISIS province. In both cases, whatever “achievements” the Palestinian Authority has made will be gone forever. The entire Palestinian national consensus government, including Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies, will be executed before the day is out and all the property they have amassed over the years will be distributed as spoils to the victor.
Mahmoud Abbas is fully aware that the last thing the West wants is yet another Islamic emirate. Many inhabitants of the West Bank are also fearful of falling victim to the Islamic religious fanatics who will set them fourteen hundred years back.
Distressingly, as Hamas’s power increases, the Palestinian Authority and its security services are gradually losing their control of the West Bank. In addition, the rumors that Mahmoud Abbas is ailing and on his way out only serve to accelerate the collapse of the PA.
The Israeli government has also been discussing the possibility of the Palestinian Authority’s collapse. We can hardly blame the Israelis for preparing themselves when it is we the Palestinians who are telling them this.
In reality, Mahmoud Abbas has been trying to signal that the rumors of his leaving the political stage (illness and a reported hospitalization in Jordan) and the collapse of the Palestinian Authority were premature. Mahmoud Abbas wants the regional and international media to know he will remain president, and that the PA will remain standing “even if soldiers invade it,” as he said.
According to Mahmoud Abbas, the very fact of the Palestinian Authority’s existence is an achievement for the Palestinian people. It is clear now that the Palestinian threats were baseless. Now even the Israelis don’t have to worry about the empty threats of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is trying to force the Israelis to give up their security demands. Given the situation, we Palestinians will have to stop telling Israel and the West one thing while we tell each other something else.
The wordplay, sophistry and anti-Israel incitement of Mahmoud Abbas continue, even as we watch Hamas establish hostile cell after hostile cell in the West Bank.
Mahmoud Abbas claimed yet again that security coordination with Israel might end because “we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements … the status quo cannot continue,” but if he makes good on his threats, he will probably be dead or exiled by Hamas within 24 hours. Worse, he is creating a situation in which no one takes either the Palestinians’s threats or their claims of wanting peace seriously.
How can Abbas expect the Israelis or anyone else to take his protestations of peace seriously, when everyone can see what took place Gaza Strip once it was cleared of Israelis? It is a Petri dish for terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, ISIS and now Iran’s Al-Sabireen (“The Patient Ones”).
How can anyone take Abbas’s protestations of peace seriously when he calls the knife-stabbers, shooters and car-rammers “peaceful demonstrators”? He embarrasses us. How can anyone believe a Palestinian leader who gives a speech about peace and praises the Palestinian “martyrs” (killed while trying to murder Jewish grandmothers and storekeepers), sends wishes for a speedy recovery to wounded attackers, and praises and glorifies Palestinian murderers?
Sadly, Mahmoud Abbas is still living in a dream world. He remembers the Arab countries that were unconditionally willing to sign peace treaties with Israel, and the so-called Saudi Initiative. In his bubble, he does not want to know that Israel is now the last thing on their minds. The Arab and Muslim countries, as they have always done, only invoke “the Palestinians” to relieve internal pressure exerted by their civilians. Abbas may not realize that that Syria is, essentially, a thing of the past. He may not see that if Israel had agreed to the Saudi Initiative, ISIS would have taken the Golan Heights and be making its way to both Israel and his West Bank. Saudi Arabia, fighting for its life against the double threat of Iran and plummeting oil prices, does not have time for the Palestinian Authority’s games.
It is time for Abbas to realize that the heads of the EU and the hypocritical European states, such as Sweden and its dupable foreign minister, are fooling him into believing that Israel is about to depart.
Israel’s surprising new international partners
By Jonathon Adelman The Jerusalem Post
Israel is beset by a possible third Palestinian intifada, the growing strength of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in Europe and the United States and the Islamic State forces near its border.
It has serious concerns about the Iranian nuclear deal, the spread of the Iranian-dominated “Shi’ite Crescent” and evolving Iranian nuclear capability to make good in coming years on a threat to exterminate Israel.
Yet, in the past two decades Israel has also made remarkable progress in weapons, water technology, high-technology, intelligence and trade. It has surged from a Third World economy in the 1950s to strong First World economy nearing $40,000 GDP/capita today. This interests many countries struggling to also move from the Third World to the First World. Additional interest in Israel reflects the ancient Indian saw that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
India, facing a hostile, nuclear- armed Pakistan, has found much to like in Israel. Last year Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited New Delhi. In turn, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj of India, a country that did not even recognize Israel until 1992, just visited Israel and called the Indian-Israel relationship of the “highest importance.” She saw “much more potential” for the relationship. This also reflects the warm attitude of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in 2014 tweeted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Hebrew Hanukka greetings.
Indo-Israeli trade is annually almost $5 billion. Israel, as India’s No. 2 source of weapons, sells it a billion dollars of military hardware.
The two countries are discussing a possible free trade zone that could reach $15 billion a year.
Vietnam, another country with an enemy it fears (China), also has developed a positive view of Israel.
Israeli-Vietnamese trade is heading toward a billion dollars a year, including the export of Israeli weapons and water technology. Work is proceeding on formal defense ties.
Last year in Washington Dore Gold, then incoming director-general of the Foreign Ministry, shared a stage and a handshake with General Anwar Eshki, a former top Saudi adviser. Both talked of Saudi-Israeli peace and named Iran as the major threat to peace in the Middle East.
Abu Dhabi, also worried about Iran, is allowing the Israelis to open an office at the International Renewable Energy Agency.
Egypt, which withdrew its ambassador in 2012, is sending a new ambassador to Israel next month.
Egypt and Israel, both fearing Iran, have been cooperating on fighting Islamic State (IS) in the Sinai. Israel has allowed Egyptian forces to enter areas forbidden by the Camp David Accords. As for Jordan, whose leaders meet frequently with Israeli leaders, King Abdullah II and his cabinet were doubtlessly relieved when Israel pledged to protect Jordan’s vulnerable border against any IS encroachment.
Once-friendly Turkey has since the Mavi Marmari incident and the Islamist turn of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan become hostile toward Israel and threatened to send a Turkish fleet off the coast of Israel.
The historic enemies of Turkey – Bulgaria and Romania – have moved toward Israel. Romania finds Israel, with its 500,000 Romanian Jews, congenial business ties, El Al flights and military equipment, very friendly.
In 2014 the Romanian president made his second trip to Israel.
Bulgaria, which saved 48,000 Jews from the Nazis in World War II, is remembered fondly in Israel. The Bulgarian president Zhelyu Zhelev visited Israel over 20 years ago.
Today, Bulgaria talks of joint military exercises and a three-way gas summit.
The common hostility toward Turkey has reached even the Mediterranean.
Greece, historically fearful of Turkey, has built such good relations with Israel since 1991 that Defense Minister Ya’alon has called Greece “an important ally.” The Greek and Israeli defense and prime ministers have exchanged visits. Fully 350,000 Israelis visit Greece every year. The two states conduct joint air and naval exercises, intelligence sharing and trade. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Israel this month and Prime Minister Netanyahu has called relations with Greece “a growing and enduring partnership.”
Netanyahu will visit Greek Cyprus this year to discuss a three-way gas deal.
Israel faces emerging dangers around its borders and to its existence.
Yet, formerly hostile countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Mediterranean have developed close ties to a strong Israel.
Who could have imagined this? Life is indeed stranger than fiction.
32 Powerful Quotes from Israel’s Leaders
– Israel Video Network