Palestinians attempt to stab Israeli forces in 2 West Bank incidents; 4 assailants killed
Security forces shot and killed a Palestinian assailant attempting to stab IDF forces at the Beit Anoun junction near Hebron on Thursday night, the military said.
No Israelis were wounded in the second attempted attack against Israeli troops in the West Bank on Thursday.
Earlier Thursday evening, security forces shot and killed three Palestinian assailants attempting to stab Israeli forces at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank.
IDF reservists guarding the Gush Etzion junction killed three male Palestinian assailants who attempted to stab them.
According to the IDF all three of the Palestinians were armed with knives.
There were no injuries on the Israeli side. The soldiers were guarding the area, which has seen numerous past security incidents in recent months.
According to The Jerusalem Post’s sister paper Ma’ariv, the three Palestinians were from the Kawazba family. It claimed that Thursday’s incident was a revenge attack for the Tuesday’s killing of their relative Ahmed Yusef Kawazba, 18.
On Tuesday a Ahmed Yusef Kawazba, 18, stabbed and lighted wounded an IDF reservist at a bus stop at the Gush Etzion junction. A nearby IDF soldier shot and killed the 18-year-old who was from the town of Sair north east of Hebron.
Separately, on Thursday afternoon the IDF arrested a Palestinian man with a knife near the Jewish building of Beit Hadassah. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinian Leader Abbas Calls Jewish Communities a ‘Cancer’
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called Jews living in Judea and Samaria a ‘cancer’ and claimed that the terror attacks against Israelis are “non-violent.”
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had warned that his speech delivered in Bethlehem on Wednesday evening would be “dramatic,” and indeed it was.
According to PA media outlets, Abbas’s speech was meant to be “ an important declaration and an answer to Israel.”
“There should be no talk about the possible collapse of the PA. There will be no such collapse. Don’t even dream of the PA collapsing,” Abbas stated, seemingly referring to a statement made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week.
“We must prevent the Palestinian Authority from collapsing if possible, but at the same time, we must prepare in case it happens,” Netanyahu said at a security meeting on Monday, Ha’aretz reported.
Abbas attacked the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, calling them “a cancer within us, which will disappear one day, the same as it did in Gaza.”
“Overall, there’s nothing new or dramatic about this speech,” an IDF Intelligence analyst told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “He gave no new information, proclaimed no new intentions or plans, and just generally recycled his own speeches from the recent past.”
However, others believe Abbas’s speech was problematic. “Calling Jewish communities a cancer is nothing short of incitement to terrorism,” Yigal Dilmoni, deputy head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, told TPS.
“Abbas proves again that he is no partner for peace. Local and international terrorists are spurred by the incitement coming out of the PA leadership; they hang to such remarks, which lead them to attacks against the Western world,” said Dilmoni.
Abbas also commented on the wave of Palestinian terror sweeping throughout Israel over the past few months. However, rather than outright condemning the deadly stabbings and shootings of Jews by Palestinian terrorists on a near-daily basis, he settled for a general statement, saying, “We are a peaceful nation, and we condemn violence and radicalism.”
“Riots will continue until the occupation ends,” Abbas stated, claiming that the Palestinian attacks are “non-violent.” (United with Israel )
Terror cell plotting abduction and murder of Jews nabbed
The Israeli Security Agency (ISA), in cooperation with the IDF and Israel Police, arrested in December a Hamas terror cell composed of Arab residents of Hevron and Jerusalem.
The six-member terror cell was planning to kidnap and murder and Israeli and use his body as a bargaining chip for the release of terrorist prisoners.
The attack was purposely meant to be similar to the one conducted in June 2014, in which three Israeli teens were kidnapped from Gush Etzion Junction and later murdered.
ISA investigators revealed that the terrorists had begun advanced preparations for the attack, including a hideout for the body of the kidnapped victims.
Ziad Abu-Haduan, a 20-year-old resident of Jerusalem’s Old City, was one of the leaders of the cell. He was released from prison in October 2015 after being convicted violent activity on the Temple Mount. Shortly after his release, he returned to his Hamas operations.
Similarly, Maher Qawasmeh, a 36-year-old resident of Hevron, who headed the cell, served two years in Israeli jail for his involvement in planning terror attacks for Hamas.
According to the ISA ‘s investigation, the cell held meetings over the last year in Hevron where they discussed conducting various attacks, before settling on the abduction and murder of an Israeli.
Over the last several months, the cell explored caves and dug up plots of land near Hevron with the intention of hiding the body there.
The terror suspects admitted they planned to carry out the abduction using two vehicles – with Old City resident Amar Rajabi, 22, driving of the vehicles and using his command of the Hebrew language to lure an Israeli.
They planned to kill the Israeli afterwards and to bury his body in the prepared location with the intention of using him as bait to negotiate for the release of Hamas terror operatives.
Did Martin Indyk lie about Netanyahu’s Rabin remarks?
Former US Middle East envoy Martin Indyk kicked off a storm of controversy earlier today, after issuing a slew of allegations and personal insults against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during a PBS interview Wednesday.
Among the most serious of those accusations are comments Indyk alleged Netanyahu made at the time of the funeral for assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in which he derided the former PM. At the time, Netanyahu was leader of the opposition and had been a political nemesis of the left-wing PM.
“Netanyahu sat next to me when I was ambassador in Israel at the time of Rabin’s funeral,” Indyk alleged. “I remember Netanyahu saying to me: ‘Look, look at this. He’s a hero now, but if he had not been assassinated, I would have beaten him in the elections, and then he would have gone into history as a failed politician.'”
“I think even at that moment of tremendous support, a tragic moment of support for Rabin, Netanyahu was thinking, well, politically he was on the ropes before he was assassinated. He exploited that and ran against Oslo in the (1996) elections and beat (Shimon) Peres, but he only beat him by something like a half of 1%.”
Netanyahu’s office has denied the claims outright, but opposition figures have already relished the opportunity to slam him for his alleged behavior.
Yet there appears to be one major flaw with Indyk’s account: footage from the funeral dug up by veteran Israeli reporter Amit Segal shows Netanyahu actually sat nowhere near the then-US Ambassador.
Segal posted a screenshot from video footage of the ceremony, with Indyk nowhere to be found in the vicinity of Netanyahu. How he then overheard the alleged remarks – which Netanyahu’s office insists “never was and never happened” – is unclear.
Where’s Martin Indyk ?
“‘I remember when I sat next to Netanyahu at the funeral,’ Indyk said, and told what was said,” Segal tweeted. “There’s just one problem: Where’s Martin?”
Later Wednesday Indyk fired back, clarifying that he wasn’t referring to the funeral itself but rather to a Knesset ceremony at which Rabin’s body lay in state.
Yet Segal pointed out that – while there is no footage of either Netanyahu or Indyk at the ceremony in question, together or otherwise – only family members were seated, while other dignitaries came and went to pay their respects.
Indyk’s appointment by the Obama administration as an “honest broker” in talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was always a point of controversy, both due to his affiliations with far-left anti-Israel groups, as well as his hostile attitude towards the Israeli government even during the talks. (Arutz Sheva)
New Mossad head: Iran remains Israel’s most significant challenge
Iran continues to be Israel’s primary and most significant challenge despite, in fact, even because of the nuclear deal it signed with the world powers, new Mossad head Yossi Cohen said on Wednesday.
Cohen’s comments came at a ceremony, attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, marking his first day in his new post.
He took over from Tamir Pardo, who served as Mossad chief for the last five years and also attended the ceremony.
“Israel is located at the center of the earthquake that has hit the Middle East in recent years,” Cohen said. “Fundamentalist Islamic extremism is washing over states, and leading to their collapse.”
Cohen said that the internal religious battles within Islam, as well as the strengthening of the terrorist organizations, makes it incumbent upon the Mossad to understand those threats, thwart them, and to contribute to Israeli security “discretely and with creativity.”
Iran continues to call for Israel’s destruction, he said. “It is is improving its military capabilities and deepening its hold in our region. Terror proxies are a means to further those aims.”
According to a statement put out by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Mossad under Pardo placed a focus on thwarting Iran’s nuclear capabilities, preventing terrorist attacks and the development of terrorist infrastructure around the world, fighting the smuggling of weapons to terrorist organizations, and developing and promoting ties with states with whom Israel does not have diplomatic ties.
Netanyahu, who said that Israel is facing more challenges than any other country in the world, said the country is a “bastion of Democracy in the heart of a neighborhood full of threats.
“The first imperative to ensuring the survival of any living thing, is to identify dangers in time, and beat them back,” he said., adding that he approved the “great majority” of the operations that Pardon bought for his approval.
Pardo, who marked the end of some three decades in the Mossad, characterized it as an organization where no mission is impossible, and where there is no problem without a solution. There are good reasons why dozens of intelligence organizations around the world want to cooperate with the Mossad, he said.
Cohen, who for the last three years served as Netanyahu’s national security adviser, is also a 30-year veteran of the Mossad who rose through the ranks and held a wide variety of positions, including director of the department responsible for running agents around the world.
On Wednesday Netanyahu announced that Yaakov Nagel will serve in the interim as Cohen’s replacement as head of the National Security Council, until a permanent replacement can be found. Nagel is currently deputy deputy director for defense and strategic policy in the NSC. (Jerusalem Post)
16 Palestinians held for hurling rocks, firebombs at West Bank road
Israeli security forces in recent weeks arrested 16 Palestinian terror suspects, including several minors, from the West Bank village of Khirbat al-Misbah, for hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at passing motorists on a major Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway.
According to a statement released Wednesday by the Shin Bet security service, the suspects were involved in a number of attacks that caused damage to vehicles on Route 443, a highway that runs adjacent to the Palestinian village. None of the suspects were linked to terror organizations, the Shin Bet said.
The arrests were made by the Shin Bet in conjunction with the army and police.
The security service said that two of the suspects, Saheeb Yousif Mesleh and Balal Abed Kasbah, admitted to organizing a number of Molotov cocktail attacks on Israeli motorists.
The other suspects were not named, but the Shin Bet said several of the detainees had been previously arrested for similar activities and for attacking IDF forces near Khirbat al-Misbah.
A number of the detainees were minors, and the security service’s statement noted the increasing involvement of Palestinian youths in low-level terror attacks against Israeli civilians.
Indictments were brought against several suspects, and the security service has asked the Judea Military Court to remand them until the end of the legal proceedings.
Israeli forces have been attempting crack down on rock throwers amid a series of near-daily violent incidents in Jerusalem and the West Bank in the past several months, sparked over tensions surrounding the Temple Mount. At least 25 Israelis have been killed in the violence; more than 100 Palestinians have also died, most while carrying out or attempting to carry out attacks. (The Times of Israel)
In setback for BDS, Spain awards West Bank school €70,000
Spain’s Supreme Court, the Council of State, has issued a landmark ruling against the country’s Housing Ministry for illegally excluding Israel’s Ariel University from a scientific competition in 2009.
The legal victory, which was announced last week but made public by Ariel University on Tuesday, is a significant setback for Spanish BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activists targeting the Jewish state.
The Council of State added €70,000 to a previous court penalty compensation of €30,000 awarded to the university. The award now totals €100,000.
Ariel University’s chancellor, Yigal Cohen-Orgad, said the decision was “a partial, but necessary, response to the pressure being mounted by the BDS movement around the globe, and proves that efforts to isolate and demonize Israel can and will be thwarted.”
The case dates back to 2009, when Spain blocked Ariel University from participating in a sustainable energy design competition, Solar Decathlon Europe.
“It’s not a simple fight, but we are successfully combating both anti-Semitism and BDS in Spain,” said Angel Mas, president of ACOM, a pro-Israel organization in Spain.
“Every day, in every attempt by BDS [and others] to delegitimize and demonize the only democracy in the Middle East, we make sure they all receive a vigorous response,” he said.
“Social networks have become the new battlefields, and the rejection of BDS by mainstream political parties, which ultimately represent the vast majority of people in Spain, is an essential objective of ours,” he continued. “Ultimately, court rulings such as this evidence BDS’s anti-Semitic objectives and will send BDS discriminatory tactics back to the fringes of our democratic society in Spain and the dustbin of history, where they belong.”
According to a university statement, Ariel received an invitation to participate in the international competition from Spain’s Housing Ministry, the organizer. The competition was open to universities from around the world.
“In 2008, Ariel University was selected as one of 21 finalist universities,” the statement said. “Ariel University was the only Israeli and Middle Eastern finalist in the competition.”
But the problems began the following year.
According to the university, in 2009, the Spanish government notified it that it had been ousted from the competition because “your institution is located in the occupied territories and since we are bound to respect the position of the European Union in relation to this matter, we are compelled to announce that it will not be possible for your center to continue in this competition.”
“The important legal victory shows that Europe’s treatment of Israeli entities and people in Judea and Samaria is legally baseless, and amounts to arbitrary discrimination,” Eugene Kontorovich , a professor at Northwestern University School of Law in the US and a leading expert on BDS, told The Jerusalem Post.
“Coming just as the EU attempts to enforce much more serious discriminatory labeling requirements, Ariel University’s legal victory highlights the inexplicable reluctance of the State of Israel to actively assert its legal rights in the World Trade Organization and other fora,” Kontorovich continued. “The fact that private lawyers had to press this case exposes both the vulnerability of the EU’s legal position and the fecklessness of the Israel government in resisting Brussels.”
The legal case against the government of Spain was led by Spanish firm Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo on behalf of Ariel University, in coordination with the University’s Anti-BDS Committee, headed by executive committee member and lawyer Marc Zell of Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
Malaysians probed over Israeli absence from sailing championships
World Sailing announced on Sunday that it is conducting an investigation and seeking clarification from the Malaysian Organizing Authority of the Youth Sailing World Championships after Israel was unable to send a delegation to the event in Langkawi, Malaysia.
Israel’s Yoav Omer and Noy Drihan will not have an opportunity to defend their titles at the championships, which got underway on Sunday, after the Israel Sailing Association (ISA ) said last week that it will not be participating in the event due to the demands made by the organizers and the fact the surfers had yet to receive visas.
The ISA informed World Sailing – formerly called the International Sailing Federation – the International Olympic Committee and the hosts that Israel will not be taking part as the organizers demanded that the surfers would not compete under the Israel flag and wouldn’t be allowed to use any symbol identifiable with Israel on their cloths or surfboards.
The hosts also said that should an Israeli win a gold medal the Israeli national anthem would not be played.
“As with all diplomatic issues this is quite a delicate matter,” said World Sailing President Carlo Croce in a statement released on Sunday.
“World Sailing is aware of the current commentary in the public arena, and have reason to believe that some of the comments may not be accurate or possibly based on misunderstandings.”
Croce insisted World Sailing will not accept a situation in which one nation is unable to compete.
“World Sailing is committed to ensuring participation in our sport by competitors from all nations, and is taking this issue seriously,” he said. “A member of the World Sailing Executive is on route to Malaysia to investigate this issue and is seeking clarification from the Malaysian Organizing Authority.
“World Sailing expects the organizing authority of its events to allow sailors from all nations to compete on an equal basis. This expectation is made clear in the bid process and is set out in the contractual documentation governing our events.
“World Sailing is not in a position to comment on this further until our investigation is complete.”
ISA chairman Gili Amir threatened last week to file a lawsuit against World Sailing and the host country.
“As we have yet to receive visas, 24 hours before our scheduled departure date, and considering the restrictions and difficulties the organizing committee has placed on us, we have decided not to take part in the competition,” Amir said last Wednesday.
“The Malaysians’ demands are unacceptable, and as we haven’t received the visas, we decided not to participate. We condemn the unsporting conduct of the organizing committee. We will not agree to be humiliated.”
Omer claimed the gold medal in the boys Under-19 competition in the previous championships last year in Gdynia, Poland, while Drihan won the girls U17 and U19 events. (Jerusalem Post)
French Jews leaving in record numbers – but not for the reason you think
Most Jewish emigres come from middle-class areas with little anti-Semitism. Only 15% are from poor, heavily Muslim areas that see frequent anti-Jewish attacks
Last year may have been traumatic for France and its Jews, but it was a pretty good one for Rudy Abecassis.
In a year that began with the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the subsequent killing of four at a kosher supermarket in Paris, Abecassis, 32, a Marseille-born computer specialist who moved to the Paris region in 2009 to find work, had a good job at a time of rising unemployment.
The income was sufficient that his wife, Emilie, was able to quit her secretarial job after the birth of their second child over the summer. The couple shared a spacious apartment in Bussy-Saint-Georges, a middle-class suburb that has been spared the anti-Semitic violence prevalent in other areas around this city.
Yet on Dec. 27, Abecassis and his family left behind their comfortable lives and moved to Israel, joining nearly 8,000 French Jews who immigrated to Israel in 2015.
“We’re not fleeing,” Abecassis said last month, as he and his family prepared to spend their last night as Parisians on an inflatable mattress in an otherwise empty home. “Our lives here have been good and we love France for it. We’re leaving with sorrow, but we want to live in a Jewish country of our own, where we are not outsiders who need to be tolerated.”
French immigration to Israel, or aliyah, has rocketed to record levels over the past three years as the country has confronted rising anti-Semitism and a series of attacks that claimed nearly 150 lives in Paris in 2015.
But while violence against Jews is often identified as the major driver of French aliyah, many immigrants cite a broader mix of reasons for choosing to leave, including Zionist sentiment and alienation from an adamantly secularist society increasingly intolerant of the religiously devout.
“The reality is more complex than the narrative according to which French Jews are leaving in record numbers because they’re feeling threatened by their Muslim neighbors,” says Daniel Benhaim, France director of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the quasi-governmental body responsible for facilitating aliyah.
Benhaim cites as evidence the fact that a majority of French Jewish emigres come from middle- and upper-class areas with little anti-Semitism. Only 15 percent are from poor areas with large Muslim populations and a high incidence of anti-Jewish attacks – a result, Benhaim said, of a reluctance to forego France’s generous social welfare benefits.
“Those who leave can afford to let go of the French welfare system,” Benhaim said. “Mostly they live where anti-Semitic attacks are relatively rare, and in many cases, anti-Semitism is not a primary catalyst for moving but a sort of a background presence.”
For religious Jews, France has become a less welcoming nation in recent years. Confronted by the struggle with radical Islam, the nation’s well-established policy of public secularism has grown even more stringent, with heated debates on pork-free menus in school cafeterias and heightened criticism over municipal funding for Jewish institutions.
Abecassis told JTA that he refrains from wearing a yarmulke in public – not out of fear for his physical safety, but because doing so would be “out of place, almost defiant.” Others say they feel socially excluded because of their faith.
“I see how the guys at work look at me, with my beard and kippah,” said Eran Azoulay, who immigrated to Israel with Abecassis and 15 others on Dec. 27 as part of the newly launched French aliyah program of the Jerusalem-based International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. “They’re not going to invite me to the pub after work. I am living in a bubble because I’m religious, and Israel’s the only place where I can step out of the bubble.”
A member of the Jewish community looks at broken tombstones after a ceremony at the Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union, eastern France, on February 17, 2015, following the desecration of around 300 tombs. (AFP/Patrick Hertzog)
A member of the Jewish community looks at broken tombstones after a ceremony at the Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union, eastern France, on February 17, 2015, following the desecration of around 300 tombs. (AFP/Patrick Hertzog)
To French Jews who live in more violence-prone areas, the aliyah spike feels like a kind of capitulation. Prosper Ovadia, 63, the owner of a single-chair barbershop in Paris’s 10th arrondissement, a crime-stricken area with a large Muslim and African population, said he refuses “to run away from the scum who are trying to throw me out.”
Still, Ovadia concedes it would be unwise to forego the $1,500 he receives monthly in welfare benefits.
“Anti-Semitic attacks or not, I can live with dignity here,” Ovadia said. “Not in Israel.”
Despite its difficulties in competing with the French welfare system, Israel has received record numbers of French immigrants since 2013, when 3,000 Jews moved to Israel. The following year, the number more than doubled to 7,238, an all-time high that made France for the first time the Jewish state’s largest source of immigrants in any given year. France maintained that distinction in 2015 with 7,900 emigres.
Abecassis says he and his wife never even contemplated leaving before 2012, the year their eldest son, Noah, was born. It was also the year an Islamist killed four Jews at a Jewish school in Toulouse, prompting the government to post armed guards at Jewish schools.
Abecassis realized he had to choose between sending his son to a Jewish school guarded by a soldier with a machine gun or a secular public school.
“We’re not really afraid he’ll be shot,” Abecassis said. “Statistically, Israel is more dangerous. We just wanted him to grow up like a normal Jewish French kid, as we had. (The Times of Israel)
Remains of 3,400-year-old fortress found in Nahariya
The remains of a fortress dating back three and a half millennia were uncovered during an archaeological dig in the northern coastal town of Nahariya, archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.
Fragments of clay pottery and weapons were also found at the site.
According to archaeologists Nimrod Getzov, Yair Amitsur and Ron Be’eri, the area near the fortress revealed “many artifacts, including human and animal statuettes, bronze weapons and imported pottery, indicating vast trade ties with Cyprus and the rest of the Mediterranean basin.”
Archaeologists at the site were assisted by young volunteers, including students at a Nahariya high school.
The dig was undertaken ahead of foundation work for the construction of a multi-story apartment building with an underground parking lot.
Seeking to preserve the remains of the fortress while allowing construction to proceed, the IAA and the contractor decided that the new building’s basement would display part of the remains, allowing tenants and visitors to view the finds.
Getzov told Hebrew-language newspaper Haaretz that the dig took place over three months during the summer, and exposed the remains of four citadels from the 14th century BCE, one built on top of another.
The fortresses were constructed in the middle and late Canaanite period, in quick succession.
“It seems like the [fortresses’] lifespan was short, and each one was burned,” Getzov said.
A sand dune that covered the relics in the years since the fortresses were destroyed helped maintain them, even preserving remains of food for posterity, he said. (The Times of Israel)
Hezbollah’s revenge against Israel shows a weakened terrorist organization
Monday’s incident on the northern border reflects the new reality in which Hezbollah is up to its neck in Syrian fighting.
by Yossi Melman The Jerusalem Post
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave no less than three speeches in the last week in which he vowed to avenge the death of Samir Kuntar.
On Monday afternoon he tried to follow through on the promise and, fortunately, he did not have much success. Hezbollah can tell its supporters that it avenged the death of Samir Kuntar and embellish the lie published in the Lebanese media that the attack’s target was a senior IDF officer or Mossad operative. Israel could have retaliated to the attack with great force by deploying the air force, but made due with a minimal response.
The incident reflects the new reality on the northern border. The Syrian civil war, in which Hezbollah is involved up to its neck and has already lost about a quarter of its military force, has neutralized the Shi’ite-Lebanese organization’s ability to act against Israel. Almost ten years have passed since the Second Lebanon War, and Israel’s deterrence is still holding. Hezbollah does not want to find itself in a conflict with Israel on the border, forced to open up a second front in addition to its ongoing role in the Syrian conflict.
However, if Hezbollah acts in accordance with its image, the group cannot let slide the series of hits it has taken at the hands of Israel in recent years. According to reports, Israel has opened up a second front against Hezbollah in Syria. On at least ten occasions in the last three years, the air force has attacked convoys carrying long-range missiles and air defense batteries from Syria to Hezbollah.
With Iranian backing, the Shi’ite group has attempted to respond to the attacks by building an infrastructure in the Syrian Golan from which it can launch reprisal operations against Israel while maintaining deniability. Israel reportedly struck and killed the leaders of this operation – Jihad Mughniyeh, Samir Kuntar and their Iranian consultants.
Despite its stockpile of rockets and missiles – some 100,000 – because of the blood it is spilling in Syria, Hezbollah is a weakened organization on the defensive and its ability to retaliate against Israel is limited. Its responses come in the form of attempts to fire rockets or place explosive devices on Israel’s border from Syria or to carry out operations against Israel in the Har Dov area, near the Lebanese border.
Israel has responded to every attempted Hezbollah attack. The responses are measured and are mainly intended to send a message to Hezbollah and to the public in Israel. At this point, neither side wants to be dragged into an escalation that spirals out of control.
Out-of-the-box thinking needed to combat terrorism
by Isi Leibler The Jerusalem Post
The “lone wolf” stabbings, shootings and other actions by individuals designed to kill Israelis are not a new phenomenon. Nor are they “popular” responses to settlements, poor living conditions or alienation due to the “occupation.”
They are an extension of the conflict with the Arabs that preceded the creation of the Jewish state.
Over the past year, incitement from the Palestinian Authority has intensified, matching that of Hamas, stoking the fires of religious fanaticism based on fabricated hysteria alleging that Jews plan to demolish al-Aksa mosque. PA President Mahmoud Abbas shamelessly directs this campaign of hatred, accusing Jews of “defiling al-Aksa with their filthy feet,” praising the “holy blood” of the “martyred” killers and condemning Israel for “murdering” the terrorists.
The objective is clear. The PA – which still endorses a two-state policy when it communicates with Western countries – today unequivocally exhorts its constituents to promote the elimination of any Jewish entity and demands the establishment of a Muslim state incorporating all territory from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
The successful outcome of the incitement is reflected in Palestinian polls which indicate that 67 percent support the stabbings and killing of Jews and believe that this serves the Palestinian national interest and 48% regard the goal of the intifada as the destruction of the Jewish state.
In the past three months, more than 25 Israeli civilians have been killed.
The new genre of killers overwhelmingly comprise religious fanatics stirred into a frenzy by their leaders and mullahs to kill Jews with the promise of entry into Paradise as glorious martyrs. Many are teenagers, they include females and they are virtually impossible to anticipate through conventional intelligence sources.
Terrorism will never be the undoing of the state and we have overcome far tougher challenges in the past. But there is no sign of this terrorism abating, rather predictions that it could intensify. It has already had a negative impact on tourism.
The numbers are far less than casualties from road accidents. But each victim of terrorism has traumatic implications for the national psyche and is mourned by the entire nation. No matter how resilient Israelis may be, the indefinite extension of an atmosphere in which one is fearful when walking down the street or distressed by a constant stream of terrorist incidents is depressing.
Unfortunately, there are no obvious solutions.
To deal with the duplicitous Abbas and the PA is not simple. Despite the incitement to kill, because it fears a Hamas takeover, the PA does prevent public uprisings and maintains internal order. The IDF understandably seeks to maintain this status quo because it has no desire to reoccupy Palestinian cities.
This current untenable situation requires new approaches and strategies.
For a start, we should try to behave rationally.
The decision by the Israeli Medical Association to instruct its members to give priority to wounded terrorists who seem to be in worse condition than their victims is bizarre.
It calls on Israeli medical officials to blur the distinction between murderer and victim. It reflects a total lack of a moral compass. Could one visualize doctors being instructed to give priority to Nazi concentration camp guards in worse condition than their former captives? A terrorist murderer is surely no better.
Likewise, repeated warnings to security forces to take maximum precautions to avoid mortally wounding killers as they seek to murder Israelis may inhibit security officers and lead to tragic consequences. We are not engaged in a friendly sport or acting as chivalrous knights. When a terrorist seeks to murder an Israeli, the instruction should be shoot to kill.
Another infuriating action is the return of the bodies of the killers to their families.
The IDF has been persuaded by Palestinian security forces that withholding the bodies generates enormous rage and leads to greater unrest. Yet despite repeated assurances by the families that funerals of terrorists will be low-profile events, the horrific mass gatherings and anti-Israel incitement calling for intensified terrorism that occurs at such funerals are surely worse than the anger generated when the bodies are not returned. We are dealing with frenzied murderers of innocent civilians, not soldiers or fighters. Handing over their bodies for funerals that become hate fests against Israel and that glorify the murderers as heroes should be terminated.
There is a need to explore further means of deterrence beyond demolishing the homes of the perpetrators’ immediate families.
The IDF has a good track record of pursuing and apprehending terrorists who are not “neutralized” instantly. However, the IDF concern to avoid direct occupation of the West Bank if the PA collapses makes it difficult to force Abbas to cease his incitement.
Taking into account the overwhelming support for terrorist acts among Palestinians, the government could perhaps consider some collective punitive responses when Abbas or his leaders launch extreme calls to incitement.
But easier said than done.
Closing the borders for a day or more to deny entry to Palestinian laborers would be painful but would cause unjustified hardship to the more moderate Arabs.
Consideration should perhaps be given to now formally annexing the major settlement blocs. This would also make it easier for the IDF to close borders should it be obliged to reoccupy the territories in the event of the PA’s collapse.
With the expanded threat of global terrorism, some Western countries may temper their pressure to create a Palestinian state at this time, realizing that the radicalization of the Palestinians would make such a state a prime candidate to join Islamic State.
In terms of deterring Hamas, Israel has greater opportunities to adopt a tough approach. Hamas propaganda exceeds the most obscene Nazi calls for the extermination of the Jewish people. Hamas is directly engaged in orchestrating terrorist attacks against Israel and restoring attack tunnels on Israeli borders. Last week, Lebanon’s El Khabar newspaper quoted Hamas sources stating that it was resurrecting sleeper cells and recruiting volunteers to launch a new wave of suicide bombings against Israel.
Understandably, Israel has sought to avoid actions that would lead to a renewed war with Hamas in Gaza. Yet there are lessons to be learned from our failure to react swiftly to former Hamas provocations. Yes, there is a possibility that tough action could renew the conflict. But there is a more compelling case suggesting that resolute action now will prevent us sliding into another war.
We should consider destroying the radio and TV stations that broadcast calls for our annihilation. We should be prepared to cut off electricity and impose tougher blockades if they continue orchestrating terrorist activity or launch rockets against us. That does indeed represent collective punishment, but taking into account the enthusiastic public support for terrorist acts against Israel, that should not deter us.
Of course, the greatest and most effective deterrent is to reintroduce targeted assassinations, which will make the leaders think twice before indulging in terrorist acts. Such action is also likely to impact on the PA and oblige it to temper its current incitement.
These suggestions are complex and can lead to other problems. But Israelis can take pride in the fact that they are capable of creative, outside-the-box solutions and have frequently adopted unconventional methods that proved successful.
The status quo is unacceptable and in the absence of remedial action it is likely to worsen.
The government must determine a strategy and convey the message unequivocally to Hamas. Now may be the best time to bite the bullet. That Iran and Hezbollah are currently engaged in a bitter battle in Syria makes it less likely that, in the event of war with Hamas, we would face a two-front confrontation The international community, which is not unduly friendly toward Israel, will presumably again call for restraint and proportionality and Israel will still be condemned in the majority of international forums.
But today, with the fear being generated by Islamic State terrorism around the world, many countries – even as they publicly join the inevitable chorus of condemnation – are likely to have a greater understanding of our determination to protect our citizens from brutal terrorist attacks than in the past.
Doctors Without Borders’ (Medecins Sans Frontieres) Anti-Israel Crusade
by Yona Schiffmiller The Tower Magazine
The international medical organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF-Doctors Without Borders) prides itself on its neutrality, claiming to provide emergency assistance to people around the world regardless of their “race, religion, gender or political affiliation.” In practice, however, MSF consistently abuses its status as a humanitarian organization to launch venomous anti-Israel political campaigns. These attacks are entirely divorced from medical and health related issues, raising questions as to what its priorities and goals are.
The most recent manifestation of this phenomenon can be credited to MSF-France. The French branch of the organization recently launched an exhibition titled “In Between Wars,” serving as a mouthpiece for Palestinian propaganda. In it, MSF parrots the “Nakba” narrative that views the founding of the State of Israel as a catastrophe, thus delegitimizing the very existence of the Jewish state. Moreover, MSF romanticizes Palestinian violence by referring to images of “armed soldiers face[ing] young stone throwers or Molotov cocktails” as “icons symbolizing the struggle of the Palestinian people against the Israeli occupation.”
Similarly, the exhibition portrays the living room of Palestinian homes as a place to pay tribute to “martyrs”a term that whitewashes the murderous terror attacks many carried out against innocent civilians.
In response, Roger Cukierman, head of the Council of Jewish Institutions in France, condemned the display as “an apology for terrorism that could inflame antisemitic violence.”
The organization’s flirtation with Palestinian violence was also on display in September 2015, when MSF-Spain published a short video glorifying 14-year old Palestinian Ahed Tamimi. The video claims disingenuously that “every Friday the village [of Nabi Saleh] demonstrates peacefully” against Israeli policy. This represents a blatant omission of the numerous planned, directed and premeditated violent incidents instigated by the villagers, which include the use of slings and the throwing of rocks at Israeli security forces. Tamimi herself has posted pictures on Facebook of her stone throwing, and she was repeatedly documented while provoking IDF soldiers.
During the video interview, Tamimi is pictured under posters of family members whom she refers to as “martyrs.” One of them, Muataz Washaha, was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and was wanted for planning and carrying out terror attacks across the West Bank. The PFLP is recognized as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union, and its logo is clearly identifiable in the poster that appears in the video.
These examples highlight MSF’s complete political bias regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a willingness to excuse Palestinian violence against Israeli Jews. More outrageous, however, is the complete inappropriateness not just of the views themselves, but the fact that they are being espoused by a medical group. These statements are indicative of a worrying trend whereby NGOs use their humanitarian status as a bully pulpit to push a completely political agenda.
Is wasting money on such propaganda the proper use of funds for a humanitarian organization?
Questions of relevance should be directed not only at MSF, but at its funders as well. In 2014, the organization took in €115 million from institutional donors, mostly European governments, EU bodies, and UN institutions. This includes €40 million from European governments like the UK, France, Germany and others. It is doubtful that these governments sought to create a platform for pro-Palestinian incitement when they donated funds to a medical NGO. What do donors think when they see their moneygiven for vaccinations and hospital bedsused instead to excuse violence and demonize Israel?
This bastardization of humanitarian aid to spew hate is detrimental to all involved. The demonization of Israel exacerbates tensions and deepens mistrust between Israelis and foreign NGOs, as well as between them and their Palestinians neighbors. As such, these actions do not contribute to the advancing of a peaceful solution to the conflict.
By politicizing medical relief, MSF endangers the life-saving mission it was created to carry out. Universal treatment of patients and helping affected populations are MSF’s raison d’être, and there is much to be done in this field of work. This is also the reason it is generously funded by various countries and institutions. For the good of the organization, the people that it serves and the cause of peace, it should stick to medicine and leave the politics to others.
Yona Schiffmiller is a researcher at NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute.
Lessons We Palestinians Can Learn
by Bassam Tawil The Gatestone Institute
Opinion polls show that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians support an armed campaign against Israel, and want to see Israel destroyed and a State of Palestine built on its ruins. The polls also show a troubling increase in popular support in the West Bank for Hamas, and a decrease in support for Mahmoud Abbas.
The greatest tragedy of the Palestinians is not 1948, it is 2015. The only thing the Palestinian leadership and terrorist organizations can agree on is their obsession to destroy the State of Israel.
It is particularly disappointing that we keep trying to defraud the Israelis and Americans with fictitious messages of peace and “two states for two peoples.” We assume they have no intelligence at all, do not understand Arabic and cannot read our Facebook pages.
The time has come to try creating — for the first time — a peaceful and demilitarized Palestinian state, which the Israelis have indicated for decades they would be happy to help us achieve.
This past week, the Israelis arrested 25 Hamas terrorists in the West Bank, most of them students from Al-Quds University in Abu Dis. Not rebels without a cause or the unemployed with a chip on their shoulder, but the finest minds we have, the intellectuals of the future Palestinian academia! The group, which dealt with recruiting and guidance and was being handled by Hamas in Turkey and its terrorist wing the Gaza Strip, was planning to carry out suicide bombing attacks inside Israel.
The leaders of the terror cell arranged safe houses and storage sites, where they set up laboratories to manufacture explosives. They recruited Palestinians — from Bethlehem, Hebron, Qalqilya and even from Jerusalem, as well as Arabs from the Israeli Negev — to acquire the chemicals and other equipment necessary for making car bombs for these students, who were getting ready to die as suicide bombers.
The Israeli security forces uncovered the network and arrested its operatives, who had also been influenced by the Palestinian Authority’s non-stop incitement of the Palestinian population. The Palestinian Authority (PA) wants to sacrifice our best and brightest to carry out terrorist attacks against Jews.
Unfortunately, recent events herald the end of the concept of establishing an independent state for the Palestinian people. The cracks in the wall of Palestinian history — which is barely a hundred years old — are growing wider. The attempts to repair the fabric of Palestinian society with neon colors are a failure. There is also internal friction among the various Salafist organizations (Hamas, ISIS, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and the PLO and Fatah and other West Bank terrorist organizations.
There is also the issue of inheritance: which organization will control the PLO? What are the differences in their agendas? The Hamas leadership in Gaza wants first to reconstruct the Gaza Strip and then renew the fighting with Israel. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military-terrorist wing, demands the immediate renewal of attacks and rocket fire against Israel. Both are trying to establish new terrorist networks in the West Bank (like the one recently uncovered). The double objective of both groups is to kill Israelis and topple the Palestinian Authority.
We Palestinians seem incapable of agreeing on even the most basic productive and constructive issues, such as rebuilding houses, education, an intelligent use of the hundreds of millions of dollars received as donations, opening the Rafah crossing and improving relations with the Arab world, especially Egypt. The greatest tragedy of the Palestinians is not 1948, it is 2015. The only thing the Palestinian leadership and terrorist organizations can agree on is their obsession to destroy the State of Israel and establish a Palestinian state on the ruins; and even there, they cannot agree on the ways, stages and means.
As long as the Palestinians thought they could get what they wanted through negotiations and intransigence, they concealed their true intentions. Recently, however, when it became clear the Israelis would not waive their demand for the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state or their determined objection to the right of return, Palestinian extremism came out of hiding. That is evident from the results consistently obtained by opinion polls, carried out by Palestinian polling centers, which show that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians support an armed campaign against Israel, and want to see it destroyed and the state of Palestine built on its ruins. The polls also show a troubling increase in popular support in the West Bank for Hamas, and a decrease in support for Mahmoud Abbas and the PA because of their inability to restore all of “occupied Palestine” to the Palestinians.
I wish we Palestinians were only smart enough to learn from the history of the Jews instead of totally rejecting them. We would immediately rid ourselves of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations. But instead we use them, because they kill Jews.
Unfortunately, the late Yasser Arafat thought it would be easier to force the Jews to make concessions if the negotiations were held in an atmosphere of terrorist attacks and to that end, he subcontracted to Hamas.
Hamas, like Frankenstein’s monster, grew to become a large terrorist organization, now threatening not just Israel but the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. In consequence, we are forced to collaborate with the Israelis if we want to survive and avoid being swallowed whole by Hamas, as we were in Gaza. That is why the threats from the Palestinian Authority to stop intelligence collaboration with Israel are nonsense. As our rhetoric becomes more and more extremist, some Palestinians suffer from a passive desire to submit to Hamas, and fewer and fewer people dare to challenge Hamas instead of rejecting both it and the Muslim Brotherhood, and gaining the trust of wider, far more powerful backer: the world, the West, and even in some ways the Israelis. We are, instead, soaking up Hamas’s destructive extremism. We allow Hamas to brainwash our younger generation with its fanatic — and unproductive — web of hate, destruction and death.
The Palestinian leadership has not yet internalized the bitter consequences of our fruitless terrorist attacks against Israel. The leadership uses its media to spread false propaganda about knives, stone-throwing and car ramming attacks, along with threats of another intifada. They do not realize that nothing will move the Israelis. Nothing will make them leave; nothing will make them give up one inch of land — certainly not terrorism. That only strengthens their resolve. We keep making the awful and perhaps irreparable mistake of educating our children, generation after generation, to hate the Jews and Israelis and to want to destroy the State of Israel. At the same time, we can see that the Israelis and the Americans follow our every move, and document our hate propaganda. Little by little, our credibility is shredded as they lose their trust.
We broadcast children’s programs promoting violence and hate on government-funded — and government-run — Palestinian TV, and at the same time expect the Israelis to make concessions to us that will compromise their security. How stupid is that? Then we continually brainwash viewers with the nonsense that, with the help of Allah, the State of Israel is temporary and will eventually cease to exist. Whom or what should the Israelis trust? The elderly Mahmoud Abbas, without support in his own country, waiting until the younger generation, brought up on hatred and war, pushes him out? We have the program “Children Speak,” which declared on November 11, 2015, with absolute certainty, that Israel’s end was just around the corner and that all the land of Palestine from 1948, “from the River to the Sea,” including Israeli cities such as Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and Nazareth, “belong to us” and “will return to us.” If you were the Israeli government, you would be suspicious too.
It is therefore mystifying why Greece’s parliament would now symbolically (non-bindingly) recognize a Palestinian State — thereby pushing actual Palestinian statehood farther away than ever. Abbas doubtless goes around trying to pick up such worthless endorsements, no doubt hoping that if he manages to bundle enough of them, stacks of internationally binding agreements will be bypassed and an actual Palestinian state, with no need for any concessions, might magically spring up.
Has no one in the intelligence services of either country noticed that, according to Palestinian TV (December 4, 2015), some of the Palestinians who have lived on Palestinian land since 1948 did not leave and now defend the land from the abuse of the “racist occupation.” The very fact that they still live on our land, despite the occupation’s full control, means they preserve Palestinian existence and guard the land as Palestinian, and believe all the land will return to Palestinian control and be part of the state of Palestine.
Ahem. “The Palestinians who have lived on Palestinian land since 1948” are what the rest of the world calls “Israeli Arabs.”
The above are two examples of official Palestinian propaganda spread by the Palestinian leadership, media and educational system throughout the Palestinian territories every hour of every day. According to Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the official Palestinian newspaper, on December 10, 2015, Jihad Jayyusi, the Palestinian Authority’s military liaison officer, visited a creative writing class in the Al-Awda girls’ school in Bethlehem, and presented them with a plaque of “Palestine,” which now includes all the territory of the State of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. According to the same newspaper, on November 17, 2015, the prize in a photography contest held by the PLO’s “prisoner department” was a map of “Palestine,” which included the same territories.
Palestinian Authority leaders, official television, schools and media outlets often display maps showing Palestine stretching from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. The maps do not show the existence of Israel.
It is particularly disappointing that we keep trying to defraud the Israelis and Americans with fictitious messages of peace and “two states for two peoples.” We assume they have no intelligence at all, do not understand Arabic and cannot read our Facebook pages, including the page of the Palestinian national security forces, where Acre and Jaffa are called “occupied.” We assume that Westerners never read Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, which on November 30, 2015, published a picture of two keys and a map of “Palestine” that included all the Israeli and Palestinian territories and read, “A memory that does not rust” — or if they do read it, that they do not understand what they are looking at.
If there is to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the first step is for the Palestinians to coordinate their own expectations. Our leaders have to understand that the Middle East arena is in a constant state of flux, that descendants of the 1948 refugees clearly will never “return” to the State of Israel, Jerusalem will never be the capital of a state of Palestine, and we will never control the Jordan Valley (because of Israel’s unfortunately justified security concerns).
In addition, in a world staggering under the burden of Islamist terrorism, Palestinian terrorism is likely, over time, only to strengthen the West’s support for Israel’s security and existence.
We should have understood a long time ago that Jews exist in Palestine, that they are here to stay forever, and that murdering them in the streets is not going to change anything. The time has come to try creating — for the first time in history — a peaceful and demilitarized Palestinian state, which the Israelis have indicated for decades they would be all too happy to help us achieve. I hope and pray we are not already too late.