Israel News Update December 2014
(mostly summaries from dailyalert.org)
U.S.-Led Coalition Halting Islamic State Advances, Officials Say – Carol Morello
The military campaign against Islamist extremists in Syria and Iraq is inflicting heavy damage, said coalition officials in Brussels, where foreign ministers of 60 nations are meeting. In a joint statement, the ministers said that the Islamic State’s advances are being halted and that airstrikes on its strongholds have helped Iraqi and Kurdish troops reclaim territory. But they cautioned that the Islamic State is far from defeated. Nevertheless, the Islamic State has continued to expand its influence across the Middle East and North Africa. Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, who heads the U.S. Africa Command, said Wednesday that the U.S. military is now tracking militant training camps in eastern Libya affiliated with the group. (Washington Post)
Palestinian Stabs Two Israelis at West Bank Supermarket – Tovah Lazaroff
A Palestinian stabbed two Israelis at a supermarket in Mishor Adumim in the West Bank on Wednesday. An off-duty security guard from the Prime Minister’s Office who witnessed the stabbings shot and wounded the Palestinian, who was from the nearby village of Eizariya. One of the wounded Israelis, who himself is a paramedic, called the Magen David Adom emergency hotline. The Mishor Adumim Industrial Park employs some 2,500 Palestinians who work alongside Israelis. Both Israelis and Palestinians work and shop in the Rami Levy supermarket. (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli Murdered by Palestinians in West Bank – Akiva Novick
On Monday, Avi Ben-Zion, a farmer from Netiv HaGdud in the West Bank, was heading home when several Palestinians stopped him and pulled him out of his car, after which they pounded his head with an iron bar and escaped with his vehicle. Ben-Tzion was found lying in the middle of the road in what was initially believed to have been a traffic accident. He died on Wednesday. IDF soldiers later arrested three Palestinians in towns near the scene of the attack. (Ynet News)
Gazans Face Winter in Ruins – Nidal al-Mughrabi and Luke Baker (Reuters)
Three months after the war in Gaza, barely any progress has been made on rebuilding the territory, despite donors pledging $5 billion.
Israel tightly monitors the import of construction materials and equipment into Gaza, arguing that otherwise it could be used to rebuild tunnels used by Hamas to carry out attacks.
Some 40,000 residents live in temporary shelter and thousands more are facing the winter rains in barely habitable ruins.
An Israeli government official said Israel was willing to help in any way to ensure reconstruction in Gaza moved forward rapidly, but it also wanted to be sure that Hamas was not rebuilding its militant infrastructure.
Israel’s Right to a Jewish Identity – Adam Levick
If the Guardian or New York Times published a long essay about some tiny, obscure indigenous tribe in Africa with a language, culture, and religious tradition unique in the region, whose history extends several thousand years and was threatened with extinction, readers would almost certainly lament their plight. Further, it certainly seems unlikely that many readers would challenge the tribe’s vigilance in protecting its ancient traditions, or its fierce desire to prevent the erosion of its unique religious-ethnic identity. The broader debate about Israel’s right to identify with a specific religious tradition is the subtext underlying many debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 64 countries have national flags that include religious symbols. Nearly half have Christian symbols and a third include Islamic symbols. 57 countries self-identify as uniquely Muslim states. Jews are not at all unique in seeking to maintain a majority citizenry united by a similar historical memory and a common political and moral destiny. The existence of a sovereign Jewish polity is no mere religious, abstract, or ideologically driven desire. Rather, it is a rational approach to ensuring the safety of a small, historically persecuted minority who can no longer risk relying on the goodwill of enlightened nations to ensure its well-being and survival. (CiF Watch-Guardian-UK)
The IDF’s Offensive Electronic Warfare Battalion – Yaakov Lappin
The IDF’s offensive Electronic Warfare Battalion is tasked with disrupting the communications capabilities of terrorist organizations and enemy states. The battalion, 40% of whose members are female, is under the direct command of the IDF General Staff. “Anything that passes through the air, we can target,” said a senior officer. “Who is the other side? Anyone who is armed and seeks to do us harm. Hizbullah, Hamas and hostile states.” “We can thwart terror attacks. I can protect my forces from bombs, if they are targeted with [remote control] explosives. This is part of the security envelope we offer them.” The battalion can take over mass-media broadcasts in Gaza, Lebanon or other locations. When a senior Hamas terrorist suddenly sees the IDF chief of staff on his television giving him 12 hours to clear the area, it “undermines his sense of security,” the officer said. (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli Industry Must Make a Passage to India – Moshe Arens
In a few years India will rank among the world’s four largest economies, together with the U.S., China and Japan. Terrorist acts have been an ongoing problem in India and make for common ground in the increasingly close relations between India and Israel. New Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a known friend of Israel, has expressed interest in building closer ties between the two countries. This development represents a great opportunity for Israel on the diplomatic and economic fronts. (Ha’aretz)
International Red Cross Official: World Holds Israel to Legal Double Standard – Yonah Jeremy Bob Jacques De Maio, head of the International Red Cross in Israel and the Palestinian areas, said Tuesday that the world was holding Israel to a double standard when it came to war crimes allegations. “Why is there so much more focus on Israel than on Syria [and] other places where many more civilians are dying?” he asked at an Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv, pointing out that “in other ongoing wars, more civilians die in one week than in Israeli wars in a full year.” (Jerusalem Post)
|Blacklisting of Pro-Israel Watchdog NGO Monitor by the Associated Press – David Bernstein (Washington Post)
• Former AP journalist Matti Friedman’s article for Tablet this past summer about how the media frames the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians provides a rare insider perspective from someone who actually worked for a major media company’s Jerusalem bureau. Friedman is back with an even more revealing article in The Atlantic. He ruminates about how many Israel correspondents act not as objective journalists, but as part of a class of mostly foreign elites who have taken up the Palestinian cause.
• The Associated Press, according to Friedman, actually banned its journalists from interviewing Gerald Steinberg, an American-Israeli professor who runs the watchdog organization NGO Monitor out of Jerusalem. “In my time as an AP writer moving through the local conflict, with its myriad lunatics, bigots, and killers, the only person I ever saw subjected to an interview ban was this professor.”
• Steinberg and NGO Monitor are huge players in the debate over the role NGOs play in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and have been particularly effective in revealing how many NGOs in both Israel and the territories that are hostile to Israel’s existence receive the bulk of their funding from European governments.
• I’ve been following NGO Monitor for years, and have yet to see the organization tell any lies or make any significant errors, which is much more than one can say for, e.g., Human Rights Watch and other anti-Israel organizations routinely relied upon by the media as objective sources. The writer is a professor at the George Mason University School of Law.
YNET: Palestinian youths, some as young as nine, rioted in eastern Jerusalem after Israel demolished the home of Abdel-Rahman Shaloudi, who plowed his car into a Jerusalem light rail station. The youths burnt tires, blocking the entrance to Shuafat, and threw stones at the police checkpoint. A number of children aged 9 and 10 even wore masks and shouted “we will keep fighting to the end.”
“The intifada has started,” a 17-year-old told Ynet. “We won’t remain quiet about what happens in East Jerusalem and inside Al-Aqsa. We will continue to struggle and support terror against Israel, that is the only solution we have to save ourselves.”
•Elaborating on his frustration, the youth also expressed anger towards the Arab world and Palestinians: “Unfortunately I don’t feel supported, not by the Palestinian government and not by the Arab world. We are disappointed and have nothing to do but protest, block roads and tell the world.”
Where do kids learn to talk this way? They’re exploited and incited.
Palestinian Terrorists Attack Jerusalem Synagogue, Murder Four Jewish Worshippers – Ralph Ellis and Michael Schwarz
Two Palestinian men armed with a handgun, knives and axes attacked Jewish worshippers at a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday morning and murdered four Israelis. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the men came from east Jerusalem. Eight others were wounded during the attack in the Har Nof neighborhood including two responding police officers. (CNN) See also Four Rabbis Murdered in Jerusalem Synagogue Attack – Jeremy Sharon The victims of the Jerusalem synagogue attack included Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 59, dean of the English-speaking Torat Moshe yeshiva; U.S.-born Rabbi Aryeh Kopinsky, 43; UK-born Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68; and Rabbi Kalman Levine, 50. (Jerusalem Post)
The “Status Quo” on the Temple Mount – Nadav Shragai (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Since July 2, 2014, an upsurge in Palestinian violence has been occurring in Jerusalem, and the number of attacks on Israelis has escalated. The Temple Mount is one of the focal points of this renewed conflict.
The Temple Mount, site of the ancient First and Second Temples, is the holiest place in the world for the Jewish people. Two Muslim shrines – the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock – stand on it today, and it is the third holiest place for Muslims.
The recent events on the Temple Mount are instigated by operatives of Hamas and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel (both of which are part of the Muslim Brotherhood network) and Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other government officials have repeatedly stated that there will be no change in the status quo on the Temple Mount, and Jewish prayer will not be permitted there.
In July 1967, Israel extended Israeli law to east Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Temple Mount, which came under Israeli sovereignty. In granting Jews the right to visit the Temple Mount, Moshe Dayan sought to mitigate the power of Jewish demands for organized worship and religious control at the site. In granting administrative control to Muslims on the Temple Mount, he believed he was mitigating the power of the site as a center for Palestinian nationalism.
However, the old status quo has been greatly degraded, increasing Muslim control and status on the Mount and greatly undermining the status of Jews and the State of Israel on the Mount.
With ongoing attacks against civilians using pipe bombs, knives or stone throwing, there seems to be an attitude of “another one”, let’s clean up and get on with life. See blog Just Another Day in the Life of……. . However, in the background there are really serious threats with risks of mass casualties. Thus we are thankful that the security forces of both Israel and Egypt do seem to be on their toes. ISIS terrorists were behind an attempted hijacking of an Egyptian missile boat in the Mediterranean last month, and planned to strike Israeli maritime targets. The craft was to be used to attack Israeli vessels and offshore gas drilling rigs, located further up the coast, according to the report.
Fears of exactly such an attack have prompted Israel’s Defense Ministry and navy to deploy new seacraft and other resources, including new patrol boats and frigates, drones and anti-missile systems, to protect against such seaborne attacks against drilling platforms in its 36 trillion cu.-ft. Tamar and Leviathan gas fields, worth an estimated $60 billion.
And just in case this gives the impression of more “Israeli” problems, one should be aware that this type of terror is now worldwide. It has now been reported in a UK newspaper that, according to security experts, terrorists are plotting to blow up five European passenger jets in a Christmas “spectacular” .
The threat has been taken so seriously it came close to leading to an outright ban on all hand luggage, a senior insider has revealed. Mobile phones and electronic devices could still be banned from plane cabins, with the threat of a 9/11-style coordinated attack on London and other major cities feared imminent.
The warning comes as UK officials admit that a terror strike on the UK is now “almost inevitable” particularly with British jihadis returning from fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. An airport security source said: “We’ve been told that five planes are being targeted in a high profile hit before Christmas. They’ve been waiting for the big one. Stuart Palmer
Netanyahu Hails British Christian Zionist “Godfather” of the IDF – Herb Keinon The ashes of Lt.-Col. John Henry Patterson, a British Christian Zionist who commanded the Jewish Legion during World War I, were interred along with those of his wife in an official ceremony Thursday at Moshav Avihayil, which was founded by Jewish Legion soldiers. According to Patterson’s grandson, Alan, who attended the ceremony on Thursday, one of Patterson’s final wishes was to be buried in Israel close to his men, and Prime Minister Netanyahu initiated the move. Patterson was a friend of Netanyahu’s father, Benzion Netanyahu. Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote about Patterson that “never in Jewish history has there been in our midst a Christian friend of his understanding and devotion.” At the ceremony, Netanyahu said Patterson was the “commander of the first Jewish fighting force in nearly two millennia. And as such, he can be called the godfather of the Israeli army.” (Jerusalem Post)
Egyptian President al-Sisi vs. Hamas – Yoni Ben Menachem
At the end of last month, Egypt’s Prosecutor General filed a lawsuit against Hamas’ military arm Ezzedin Al Qassam, intending to declare Hamas a terrorist organization and outlaw its activity. Hamas claims that the directive to the Prosecutor General originated from Egyptian President al-Sisi himself. The Egyptian move against Hamas comes after the grave terror attack in northern Sinai six weeks ago in which 33 Egyptian soldiers were killed. The extremist Ansar Beit al Maqdes, that recently joined ISIS, claimed responsibility, but according to Egyptian intelligence, Hamas was actively involved in this terror attack by smuggling explosives and its fighters through Gaza’s tunnels. The Egyptians claim the terror attack was masterminded by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, that the logistical support was provided by the Turkish intelligence services, and that Qatar financed the operation with $6 million. Hamas has denied all connection to the attack. The writer, a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center, is former Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Iran Threatens Hizbullah Missile Attack on Israeli Gas Fields – U. Kafash, Y. Mansharof, and A. Savyon
In November, websites close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) began reporting about the capabilities of the IRGC missile unit, and in particular about its capability to strike and destroy Israel. At the same time, there has been a marked increase in threats by IRGC officials on behalf of Hizbullah about the latter’s readiness to strike any point in Israel. Furthermore, the IRGC-affiliated Fars news agency is touting the capability of Hizbullah’s Iranian missiles to damage Israel’s natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as Israeli naval vessels. Fars published statements by IRGC Aerospace Force and missile unit commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh and his deputy Majid Mousavi, who said that Hizbullah is in possession of Iranian missiles with a range of 300 km., covering Israeli territory as far south as Dimona. Hajizadeh added that the IRGC and Hizbullah were a single apparatus. (MEMRI) See also MEMRI Back Online after YouTube Backtracks – Oded Yaron YouTube temporarily closed the account of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) this week for the third time due to complaints by the institute’s opponents. MEMRI monitors the Arabic and Farsi media, and its YouTube channel features clips from Arabic or Farsi television channels along with translations in English, Hebrew, French and other languages. (Ha’aretz)