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Latest News in Israel – 13th March

Updates from Israel and the Jewish World

Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman

Temple Mount shut down after firebomb thrown at police post

Police sealed off the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem on Tuesday after a firebomb was thrown at officers, leading to several arrests and low-level clashes.

The incident came amid already high tensions at the site and threatened to set the region alight as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned of “serious repercussions.”

One officer was treated for mild smoke inhalation after the firebomb attack on a police post situated on the edge of the sensitive holy site, according to police.

The Molotov cocktail set fire to a motorized cart used by police on the Temple Mount.

Police quickly deployed across the hilltop compound, scuffling with worshipers in the area as they searched for the assailants. In one video, police were seen wrestling a woman to the ground.

Ten suspects were arrested and an investigation into the incident was ongoing, police said.

Following the attack, police closed the entrances to the volatile holy site and removed all those already on the Temple Mount, which has seen several confrontations between Israeli security forces and Muslim worshipers in recent weeks.

Police said they found flammable materials, firecrackers and Molotov cocktails during a search of the Temple Mount after it was closed.

The Damascus Gate entrance of the Old City of Jerusalem was also closed and police were dispatched throughout the Old City and East Jerusalem “to prevent and respond to any attempt to disturb public order in response to the serious incident,” police said in a statement.

There were no reports of violence in the wake of the closure, which was condemned by Palestinian leaders and others.

Abbas denounced the “dangerous Israeli escalation” and warned of “serious repercussions.”

His office said he was in communication with relevant parties, including Jordan, “to pressure the occupation’s government to halt this dangerous escalation,” and called on the international community to urgently intervene.

Muslim worshipers have repeatedly threatened to enter an area of the Temple Mount near the Gate of Mercy, which was closed by court order in 2003 over allegations that the group overseeing the site was tied to the Hamas terror group.

The longstanding closure of the area near the Gate of Mercy on the compound has ignited tensions between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli police in recent weeks. Worshipers have forced the area open and entered on several occasions.

High-level Israeli and Jordanian officials have been holding talks in the hope of defusing the situation. Last week, Israeli officials traveled to Jordan for meetings, and Jordanian officials have also visited Jerusalem according to Israeli reports.

The talks are ongoing and the sides have yet to come to an agreement, according to the Haaretz daily.

Jordan has offered that the site be closed for long-term renovations. While the Israelis agree, they insist it must first be closed without renovations taking place, as a statement of Israeli authority. This disagreement has reportedly stood in the way of a deal.

A fire rages in a police post on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at it

The area inside the Gate of Mercy was sealed off by Israeli authorities in 2003, and it has been kept closed to stop illegal construction work there by the Islamic Waqf, the organization that administer the Temple Mount. The actual Gate of Mercy, which is a fortified gateway in the retaining wall surrounding the Temple Mount, has been bricked up for nearly 500 years.

Israeli officials believe the work carried out by the Waqf, which refused to allow any Israeli observers, led to the destruction of antiquities from periods of Jewish presence in the area.

Last month, the Waqf reopened the site and Palestinian worshipers began to use it as a mosque, despite Israeli attempts to keep the area sealed.

The Waqf has repeatedly challenged the closure, convening and staging prayer-protests in the area, which often erupted into clashes with police. (the Times of Israel)

Hebron stabbing disaster averted thanks to IDF soldiers

A Palestinian man attempting to carry out a stabbing attack in the Hebron area has been shot and killed by IDF soldiers, said the Israeli military spokesman.

“IDF fighters identified a terrorist armed with a knife running toward them,” said the IDF statement.

“The fighters had forced back the terrorist who had been running toward a civilian structure nearby as he held the knife,” said the statement. “The fighters fired at the terrorist, thwarted the attack, and he was killed. There were no casualties among our forces.”

The attacker had apparently tried to enter Beit Ha’Shalom, a contentious building originally built by Arab businessmen but later purchased by Israeli Jews, located on the outskirts of Hebron near Kiryat Arba.

According to reports, at least one resident of the building spotted the terrorist and called for Israeli security forces. The terrorist reportedly lunged in an attempt to stab the soldiers but was shot and killed before he could carry out the attack.  (WIN)

New Palestinian PM’s Has a History of Praising Terrorists

Newly appointed Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtayeh has a history of praising terrorists, a leading watchdog group highlighted on Monday.

According to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Ishtayeh appeared on Hezbollah-affiliated station Al-Manar in 2010 shortly after the death of arch-terrorist Abu Daoud, the mastermind behind the 1972 Munich massacre, and praised the deceased terror leader, saying, “The martyr Abu Daoud continues the convoy of martyrs who fell for the sake of Palestine. We all follow this path.”

Abu Daoud, whose real name was Mohammad Daoud Oudeh, was head of the Palestinian terror group Black September and orchestrated the attack in which eleven Israelis were taken hostage at the Munich Olympic games and eventually murdered. He died of natural causes in Damascus in 2010.

Ishtayeh also endorsed violence in the interview, saying, “As for the claim that history can be rewritten in a different way — I think it is unjust to say that Palestinian history can be written in a different ink. The ink in which the Palestinian history has been written is red, and I believe that it will continue to be written in red ink.” (United with Israel)

Peace Can Only Be Achieved ‘Through Strength,’ Israel’s PM Netanyahu Says

Peace can only be achieved “through strength,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted on Tuesday.

Speaking at a state memorial ceremony in Jerusalem for the late former Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Netanyahu — the Likud leader who is seeking a fifth term as prime minister in April’s Knesset elections — stated, “Only when our neighbors are convinced that our strength and our presence here are irrefutable facts, only then some of them will be persuaded to make peace with us, and we are fully advancing this recognition and agreement process with our remaining neighbors, not with all of them, but with most of them.”

“We are doing this with extensive segments of the Arab and Islamic world in an expedited normalization process, only part of which the public can see,” he added. “We are also holding this process in secret, and Israel is currently in contact with half a dozen important Arab and Islamic countries, which up until recently were hostile to Israel.”

Netanyahu faces a stiff challenge in the upcoming vote from the centrist Blue and White joint list led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. However, on a number of key security issues, including the threat posed by Iran, there is broad consensus among all of Israel’s mainstream parties.

“We are continuing to take vigorous action against Iran’s attempts to entrench militarily in Syria,” Netanyahu said on Tuesday. “We are also doing so in the face of the aggression of Hezbollah and Hamas, whose tunnels we are systematically dismantling.”  (the Algemeiner)

Netanyahu responds to Erdogan: What a joke!

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday fired back at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after Erdogan condemned Netanyahu’s affirmation of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people as “blatant racism”.

“Turkey’s dictator Erdogan attacks Israel’s democracy while Turkish journalists and judges fill his prisons. What a joke!” tweeted Netanyahu.

“In Israel, no one is a second-class citizen. Israel is a democracy in which all Israelis, including our nearly 2 million Arab citizens, enjoy equal individual rights. But Israel is also the one and only Jewish state, with a Star of David on our flag, Hatikvah our national anthem, Hebrew our official language and where a Law of Return gives every Jew around the world the right to return to our ancestral homeland,” added the Prime Minister.

But Israel is also the one and only Jewish state, with a Star of David on our flag, Hatikvah our national anthem, Hebrew our official language and where a Law of Return gives every Jew around the world the right to return to our ancestral homeland.

Earlier on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Turkish President tweeted, “Netanyahu says that Israel is ‘a nation state not of all its citizens but only of the Jewish people’. I strongly condemn this blatant racism and discrimination. 1.6 million Arabs/Muslims live in Israel. Will the Western governments react or keep silent under pressure again?”

Kalin’s tweet referred to a controversy in Israel over the weekend stirred by warnings from the ruling Likud party that a left-wing government could be formed after next month’s elections with the support of radical, anti-Zionist Arab factions.

Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) repeated the warning in an interview on Saturday, prompting actress and model Rotem Sela to excoriate Regev and the Likud, while declaring Israel to be a “state of all its citizens”.

On Sunday, Netanyahu responded to Sela, saying during his weekly cabinet meeting that Israel is not a “state of all its citizens”, but the nation-state of the Jewish people, which, while protecting minority groups and providing them with full civil rights, was founded to serve as an expression of Jewish sovereignty.

“I would like to clarify a point that, apparently, is not clear to slightly confused people in the Israeli public. Israel is a Jewish, democratic state. This means is that it is the national state of the Jewish people alone. Of course it respects the individual rights of all its citizens – Jews and non-Jews alike, but it is the national state, not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said.

“Other peoples, other nationalities and other minorities – have national representation in other states. The national representation of the Jewish people is in the State of Israel. Israel is the national state of the Jewish people and of it alone.”

Erdogan regularly criticizes and attacks Israel, despite the facts that the two countries signed a comprehensive reconciliation deal in 2016, ending a six-year diplomatic standoff following a violent encounter between Israeli soldiers and Islamist radicals on a ship attempting to break through the security blockade on Gaza.

In the past, the Turkish President has accused Israel of being a “terrorist state”, and called Netanyahu a “terrorist”, after IDF forces opened fire on infiltrators during a Hamas-led confrontation on the Israel-Gaza border.

Last December, Erdogan’s spokesman demanded that Israel “end the lawless occupation of Palestinian lands,” accusing the Jewish state of “brutal oppression of Palestinian people”.

Netanyahu responded by lambasting Turkey’s policies towards its Turkish minority, adding that under Erdogan, Turkey appeared to be becoming “more dictatorial day by day”. (Arutz Sheva)