Posts Tagged ‘Gaza Strip’

Israel plans to expand West Bank settlements with 2,500 new homes

May 24, 2018

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday he would request approval from a planning committee for the building of 2,500 new homes in 30 settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“The 2,500 new units we’ll approve in the planning committee next week are for immediate construction in 2018,” Lieberman said in a statement, adding he would also seek the committee’s approval for a further 1,400 settlement units for later construction.

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A view of the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit on February 14, 2018. (AFP Photo)

“We will promote building in all of Judea and Samaria, from the north to south, in small communities and in large ones,” Lieberman wrote, using the Biblical names for the West Bank.

“In the coming months we will bring forward thousands more units for approval.”

There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials, who have long argued that Israeli settlements could deny them a viable and contiguous country.

In a Tuesday appeal to the International Criminal Court, the Palestinian foreign ministry called Israeli settlements “the single most dangerous threat to Palestinian lives and livelihoods”.

While Israel would expect to retain certain settlements in any two-state peace deal, longstanding international consensus has been that their status must be negotiated.

Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Most countries consider settlements that Israel has built in territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East war to be illegal.

Israel disputes that its settlements are illegal and says their future should be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians.

Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas that are also home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians.


As Health Worsens, Israeli Intelligence Sees the Beginning of the End of Abbas’ Rule

May 22, 2018

Claims that the Palestinian president was suffering from pneumonia have been rejected, but Israel believes the 82-year-old’s time in charge is drawing to an end

.Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reads a newspaper inside the hospital in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank May 21, 2018. Palestinian President Office (PPO)/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reads a newspaper inside the hospital in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank May 21, 2018.\ HANDOUT/ REUTERS

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ hospitalization this past week has led to conflicting reports about his health. Senior Palestinian Authority officials have downplayed the seriousness of his condition. But according to rumors in Ramallah over the weekend, the true information is being kept under wraps.

What is known for sure is that Abbas has been in and out of hospital for a week now – first for ear surgery and later for tests. During this period, Abbas has communicated with those around him and spoken to a few people by phone.

On Sunday, close associates told journalists and interlocutors on the Israeli side that his situation was much improved. On Saturday, it was said that he had pneumonia and was even on a respirator. Abbas’ associates say his illness is due to the tremendous pressure on him in recent weeks and his many trips abroad during this time.

Abbas, 82, has suffered from various ailments in recent years and remains a heavy smoker. Although he still frequently travels abroad, the word in Ramallah is that when he’s in the West Bank, his daily schedule has been curtailed and he frequently shows signs of impatience and behavior described as capricious and angry.

Abbas’ advanced age and health may have also contributed to some of his recent actions. In April, he hinted that the Jews were partially responsible for what happened to them in the Holocaust (after which he issued a semi-apology). Before that, he insisted on cutting assistance to the Gaza Strip as part of the ongoing conflict with Hamas.

Israeli security officials see this as the beginning of the end of Abbas’ rule, although it is not clear how long the whole process will take.

In the frenzied atmosphere that has taken hold on the Israeli right – given the Netanyahu government’s recent string of political and security successes – there will probably be calls to take advantage of the situation and make unilateral changes to the relationship with the PA in the West Bank. But leading security officials say that, on the contrary, security coordination with Abbas and his people is a strategic asset that must be carefully maintained with Abbas’ successor (or successors).

Absent a permanent solution or any diplomatic talks on the horizon, security connections with the PA help prevent deterioration on the ground. Witness the dozens of cases in which PA security operatives have, in keeping with Abbas’ policy, returned Israeli citizens who mistakenly entered Palestinian towns or cities. The PA also continues, for its own reasons, to arrest Hamas activists, some of whom are involved in planning terror attacks against Israel.

Even when Abbas decides to retire, or his heath forces him to do so, the identity of his heir is not apparent.

Abbas holds three different offices: chairman of the PA, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and head of Fatah. The legal situation of the Palestinian institutions is complicated; the enmity between Fatah and Hamas – and the fact that Abbas has not clearly declared an heir – will seemingly complicate succession plans.

There is, of course, the possibility that the matter will be decided democratically – though the last elections in the territories were for the Palestinian parliament back in 2006.

The Israeli intelligence community believes it is more likely that Abbas will be replaced, at least temporarily, by a group that could include senior Fatah leaders, officials with diplomatic experience and representatives of the security agencies.

Names mentioned include Jibril Rajoub, the former head of the PA’s Preventive Security who in recent years has headed the Palestinian Football Association. Rajoub has returned to intensive political activity in recent times and could play a major role after Abbas leaves. Another contender is Mahmoud al-Aloul, the former governor of Nablus who is now Abbas’ deputy in Fatah. Majid Faraj, the West Bank intelligence chief, is considered a strong man who is close to Abbas, but without much chance to succeed him.

A quiet weekend in Gaza

Meanwhile, the Gaza Strip saw the quietest weekend since demonstrations began along the border with Israel on March 30. This might be due to the impact of the clashes that took place last Monday, when 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. The health system in Gaza was hugely overstretched due to the thousands of people also wounded in the protests.

A Palestinian protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and holding a slingshot during clashes with Israeli soldiers along the border with the Gaza Strip, May 18, 2018.
A Palestinian protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and holding a slingshot during clashes with Israeli soldiers along the border with the Gaza Strip, May 18, 2018.MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

The relative calm might also be connected to the main change that followed the deaths: Egypt’s announcement that it was opening the Rafah Crossing. Two possibilities for the move came from Cairo. According to one, the crossing would be open throughout the month of Ramadan. According to the other, the crossing will open 10 days a month, instead of only a few days. Either way, this is Hamas’ first major achievement as a result of the protests, along with renewed debate about Gaza’s distress in the international media.

Considering this relative success, the Friday demonstrations are likely to persist. Hamas has already announced plans for a major protest on June 5 – the 51st anniversary of the Six-Day War.

Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis has continued the propaganda war between the IDF and Hamas. In an article published Sunday in the Wall Street Journal, he accused Hamas of lying to the international community. According to Manelis, Hamas paid $14 to each Gazan who attended the demonstrations, $100 to each family and $500 to any person injured during the clashes.

Netanyahu: Erdogan knows all about ‘terrorism and slaughter’

May 16, 2018

PM rebuffs Turkish leader’s ‘genocide’ accusation over Gaza border violence, notes Erdogan’s support for Hamas

Times of Israel
May 15, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the official opening ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the official opening ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to accusations from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Israel is committing “genocide” in the Gaza Strip, saying on Tuesday that as prime support of Hamas, the Turkish leader was himself involved in “terrorism and slaughter.”

The verbal clash came in the wake of a day of deadly violence in which dozens of Palestinians were killed during Hamas-organized confrontations with Israeli security forces on the Gaza border.

Erdogan said Monday that Israel is a “a terror state” that has committed “a genocide.” Turkey also recalled its ambassadors to Israel and the US for consultations on the situation.

In a response statement, Netanyahu said that “Erdogan is among Hamas’s biggest supporters and there is no doubt that he well understands terrorism and slaughter. I suggest that he not preach morality to us.”

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said Tuesday that 60 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,700 were wounded the day before amid the biggest riots and rallies in a weeks-long campaign of protests against Israel, known collectively as the “March of Return.”

A Palestinian woman holding her national flag looks at clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Tens of thousands of Palestinians attended Hamas-organized protests on the Gaza border and hundreds of others clashed with Israeli troops on the outskirts of Jerusalem and in other locations in the West Bank, marking the 70th anniversary of what they call the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” of Israel’s creation in 1948, as well as protesting the relocation of the US embassy to Israel’s capital on Monday afternoon.

Israel said Hamas used the border protests to try to breach the fence and carry out attacks in Israeli territory. Citing Hamas sources, Hadashot TV news said 10 of the terror group’s members were killed in the clashes, including a son of its co-founder Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi. The IDF’s spokesman said Hamas deployed 12 separate terrorist “cells” to try to breach the border at different locations, and that all were rebuffed.

Speaking to Turkish students in London in a speech broadcast by state television Erdogan, whom Israel has accused of providing aid to Hamas, said Monday that “Israel is wreaking state terror. Israel is a terror state. What Israel has done is a genocide. I condemn this humanitarian drama, the genocide, from whichever side it comes, Israel or America.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan answers questions after giving a speech at Chatham house in central London on May 14, 2018. (Adrian DENNIS/AFP)

Netanyahu and Erdogan last went head to head in April when the latter criticized Israel’s response to the first of the “March of Return” protests.

The Turkish president has positioned himself as a defender of the Palestinians and harshly criticized the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and its relocation of its embassy to the city, saying that the move was a violation of international law.

In 2010, 10 Turks were killed in a melee after they attacked IDF troops who boarded a Gaza blockade-busting ship.

About 70 percent of Gaza's population, or two million people, are either refugees or descendants of refugees [Mohammed Saber/EPA-EFE]

About 70 percent of Gaza’s population, or two million people, are either refugees or descendants of refugees [Mohammed Saber/EPA-EFE]

The raid led to a souring of ties between the two countries, once close economic and security partners. Diplomatic ties were fully restored when Ankara returned its envoy to Israel in December 2016, though they have remained frosty since.

Raphael Ahren and agencies contributed to this report.

Egypt condemns Israel’s ‘targeting of Palestinian civilians’ in Gaza: foreign ministry

May 15, 2018

Egypt on Monday strongly condemned what it said was Israel’s targeting of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, where at least 38 have been killed while demonstrating at the border, the foreign ministry said.

“Egypt rejects the use of force against peaceful marches demanding legitimate and just rights, and warns of the negative consequences of this dangerous escalation in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the ministry said in a statement.


Reporting by Ali Abdelaty, writing by Sami Aboudi, Editing by William Maclean


Egypt Urges Hamas Officials to Quell Tensions Ahead of Monday’s Mass Gaza Protest

Egypt attempting to convey messages from Israel, sources close to Hamas say. The group has sent over 100,000 text messages to encourage residents to participate in mass protests

.Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh smiles after delivering a speech in Gaza City April 30, 2018.
Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh smiles after delivering a speech in Gaza City April 30, 2018. \ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS

Senior officials in Hamas, including politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, departed on Sunday for Cairo at the request of Egyptian intelligence. According to sources close to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Egypt is attempting to lower tensions ahead of mass protests the group has planned for the next two days, and is conveying messages from Israel on the matter. Egypt is furthermore attempting to advance the process of reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

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Gaza continues to prepare for the demonstrations planned for Monday and Tuesday over the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem and Nakba Day.  Haaretz has learned that Hamas has over the past few days sent over 100,000 text messages to members and Gaza residents encouraging them to take part in protests near the border fence and to hold large processions in the West Bank that will march toward checkpoints.

Meanwhile, the Higher Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel – an umbrella organization representing Arab Israelis at the national level – plans on Monday to demonstrate in Jerusalem against the U.S. decision to move its embassy there. Palestinians from East Jerusalem are to participate in the demonstration.

>> Analysis: Israel braces for incendiary week in Gaza, West Bank as tensions with Iran expected to ease ■ Jerusalem Embassy, Gaza, Nakba: All you need to know about Israel’s roller-coaster week  ■ Analysis: As Nakba Day approaches, Israel looks to Palestinian Authority to prevent total anarchy

“We will raise our voice against U.S. policy, which backs the Israeli government’s occupation and settlements and the elimination of the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital within 1967 borders,” the committee’s chairman, Mohammad Barakeh, said. “This brutal American step and the entire ‘deal of the century’ will not erase the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, which is by right and not by the benevolence of Israel or the U.S.”

On Saturday, a 15-year-old Palestinian died after being shot during protests near the Gaza border fence. Also Saturday, a 40-year-old man was killed by IDF fire east of the Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis. The Israel Air Force earlier destroyed a tunnel near the Erez Crossing at the Gaza border. The military believes that the tunnel was supposed to the Israeli communities of Nativ Ha’asara and Kibbutz Erez and said it was the ninth tunnel destroyed by security forces so far.

Palestinians said set to withdraw recognition of Israel

May 2, 2018

Sources tell pan-Arab daily that the PLO will seek to pause all agreements until Jerusalem recognizes a state of Palestine

Time of Israel
May 2, 2018

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah, April 30, 2018. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah, April 30, 2018. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP)

The top-level governing body of the Palestine Liberation Organization is reportedly set to adopt a resolution freezing its recognition of Israel and conditioning it on Israel recognizing a state of Palestine.

Sources close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat that the Palestinian National Council is expected to pass the resolution during its current gathering, and will also put on hold all other agreements with Israel.

Abbas is reportedly to announce the measures during a speech to the council on Thursday evening.

The sources said the PNC, which is holding a rare gathering this week in Ramallah, will make a number of decisions against Israel. Among other things, the council will allow the filing of war crimes complaints against Israeli figures and organizations, the sources said.

The PNC is the legislative body of the PLO, the official representative of the Palestinian people all over the world, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The PA, headed by Abbas, was created as a result of the 1993 Oslo Accords, in which the Palestinians agreed to recognize Israel. The PA is responsible for governing the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Decisions made by the PNC are usually also adopted by the PA.

In addition to the measures against Israel, the PNC will call for ending money transfers to the Gaza Strip, which the Hamas terror group seized from Abbas’s Fatah party in a violent coup in 2007, the report said. Several attempts at reconciliation between the rival factions have failed to restore PA governance in Gaza.

Abbas told the council that the PA, which has already slashed funding and imposed other sanctions on Hamas, transfers some $115 million a month to the Strip.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he chairs a Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah, April 30, 2018. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP)

On Monday Abbas provoked condemnation from Israel and the US after he gave a long, rambling speech to the council in which he said that the Holocaust was not caused by anti-Semitism but by the “social behavior” of Jews, including money lending. He touched on a number of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories during what he called a “history lesson” as he sought to prove the 3,000 year-old Jewish connection to the Land of Israel is false.

Abbas also spoke at length about the failed peace process and reiterated his preemptive rejection of the peace plan that the Trump administration is working on, amid an ongoing and deep rift with the US.

The Palestinian leader told the hundreds of delegates that he was sticking to his rejection of any US proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal following the Trump administration’s recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a decision to move the US embassy there in mid-May.

The 82-year-old Abbas warned that he might “take tough steps in the near future in our relationship with our neighbors (Israel) and the Americans.” He did not elaborate, but said they would be important and far-reaching.

Later this week, the Palestinian National Council is to elect a new PLO Executive Committee, an 18-member leadership group that has served in recent years to rubberstamp any decisions by Abbas.

The elections, tightly controlled by Abbas, are expected to install a new group of loyalists in the committee. The council last convened over 20 years ago.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.


Four Palestinian militants dead in Gaza blast — accidental detonation of weapons or explosives used in attacks against Israel

April 15, 2018

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A Palestinian man looks at the scene of an explosion in the southern Gaza Strip, April 14, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu MustafaREUTERS

GAZA (REUTERS) – THE Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group said four of its members were killed in an apparent accidental blast in the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

The group said in a statement that it was “mourning its fighters who were martyred during preparations”.

It usually employs those terms to refer to casualties caused by the accidental detonation of weapons or explosives used in attacks against Israel.

The Gaza Health Ministry confirmed four fatalities in the incident. Medics at the scene in the Rafah area said the explosion was caused by Israel. But an Israeli military spokesman said the army was not involved.

“Contrary to reports currently circulating I can tell you that the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) is not aware of any IDF fire in the area surrounding Rafah,” the spokesman said.

Violence has flared in the Gaza Strip since March 30, when Palestinians began protests along the border area with Israel.

Israeli troops have shot dead 31 Gaza Palestinians and wounded hundreds since the protests began, drawing international criticism of their lethal tactics.

The border area remained largely quiet on Saturday.

Protesters have set up tented camps near the frontier as a protest dubbed “The Great March of Return” – evoking a longtime call for refugees to regain ancestral homes in what is now Israel – moved into its third week.

Israel has declared a no-go zone close to the Gaza border fence.

Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005. The Palestinian enclave is ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement, designated by Israel and the West as a terrorist group.

Citing security concerns, Israel maintains a naval blockade of the coastal territory, keeping tight restrictions on the movement of Palestinians and goods across the frontier.

Egypt, battling an Islamist insurgency in neighboring Sinai, keeps its border with Gaza largely closed.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; writing by Maayan Lubell; editing by Angus MacSwan)

Israel Strikes Hamas Target in Gaza in Response to Border Infiltration Attempt

April 9, 2018

The Israeli Defense Forces attacked a terrorist target, a military compound belonging to Hamas, in the northern Gaza Strip early Monday morning, the Israeli army reports

The IDF attacked a terrorist target, a military compound belonging to Hamas, in the northern Gaza Strip early Monday morning, the Israeli army reported.

The attack was carried out in response to the attempted infiltration by Hamas with an improvised explosive device on Sunday.

In a statement Tuesday morning, the IDF said that they view Hama’s attempts to turn the border fence into a combat zone and destroy Israel’s security and defense infrastructures with “great severity.”

The IDF said that it will not “allow cynical use of civilians as a cover for terrorist activity against Israeli citizens and IDF forces, and will respond to all attempts at this kind of terrorism.”

Hamas “is solely responsible for what is happening in the Gaza Strip and from above and below the ground,” the report concluded.


Palestinians Renew Protest on Gaza Border, Three Reported Wounded From Israeli Fire

April 6, 2018


Palestinians report Israeli forces have opened fire on protesters setting tires on fire east of Jabaliya ■ Israeli Arab and Gazan NGOs petition Israel’s Attorney General to stop use of live ammunition

.Palestinian protesters cover during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Thursday, April 5, 2018
Palestinian protesters cover during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza’s border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Thursday, April 5, 2018Adel Hana/AP

Confrontations between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinians resumed Friday along the border fence in the Gaza Strip, as protesters set tires on fire. Palestinian media reports that three were wounded from IDF fire east of Jabaliya.

According to IDF spokesperson, violent protests involving hundreds of Palestinians have been taking place since the morning in five “hotspots” along the border fence. IDF troops are using riot desperal methods and live fire in accordance with protocol.

In light of assessments, the IDF declared the area around the fence a closed military zone.

Local councils report that despite a substantial presence of IDF, Police and Fire Brigade forces along the border, no special directions were given to residents as of yet.

Thousands of Palestinians are making their were towards friction points along the fence. Hamas is mandating all of its platoon officers to join the protests along with their family members. The IDF currently assesses there will be less demonstrators this Friday compared to last week, but not by a large margin.

.Soldiers stand in front of the Gaza border fence, facing a wall of black smoke raising from the burning tires, April 6, 2018

Soldiers stand in front of the Gaza border fence, facing a wall of black smoke raising from the burning tires, April 6, 2018.  Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Palestinians have begun torching tires near friction points along the border in hopes that the thick black smoke would impair IDF snipers’ vision. As of now, these are done away from the fence.

In preperation for the rallies, tractors expanded the encampment near Khan Yunis in the southern strip, and have mounded sand heaps along the fence to protect demonstrators from IDF fire.

The Adalah Legal Center and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, based in Gaza, petitioned Israel’s Attorney General and the IDF’s Military Advocate General and requested they explicitly order Israeli forces to refrain from using any kind of live fire, including snipers.

“Live fire against protesters in Gaza is against international law and Israeli law,” read the statement. “We state and emphasize again that this infringement amplifies itself in the face of clear criminal dimensions in light of the fact that it is premeditated, on the basis of intention to use live ammunition illegally.”

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported Friday on the death of Tair Mohammed Raba’a, a 30-year-old protester who was wounded near the border fence last week. Raba’a raises the Palestinian death toll to 22 since the March of Return began on March 30.

The Israeli military expects some 50,000 Palestinians to participate in Friday’s planned protests near the border fence with the Gaza Strip in five separate locations, an increase over the 35,000 who came out to protest last Friday. At a meeting on Thursday senior army officials also discussed the possibility that Hamas would exploit the chaos surrounding the protests in order to commit an attack inside Israeli territory.

On Thursday, Israel reinforced the military presence near the border fence. The rules of engagement during the protests are to remain unchanged, meaning that snipers will be permitted to shoot at anyone on the Gaza side of the fence who approaches close to it with the intention of crossing into Israel. Human rights organizations in the country and international groups have criticized this protocol, which they say led to the unjustified killing of unarmed Palestinians.

Despair Is From the Devil

March 31, 2018


Despite all the trouble, never before in history has the Jewish state flourished the way it does today, nor has it been as secure as it is now

.Soldiers at the Passover Seder in Ashkelon
Soldiers at the Passover Seder in AshkelonRay Scally

The main headline in Yedioth Ahronoth last Tuesday was: “The country is in grave condition.” This frightening diagnosis summarizes the opinion of six former Mossad heads: Zvi Zamir, Nahum Admoni, Efraim Halevy, Shabtai Shavit, Dani Yatom and Tamir Pardo.

According to Zamir, “the country is sick”; Pardo believes “we’re getting lost”; Shavit says that “as intelligence people, our most important ability is forecasting the future.” And the future – according to the prophetic abilities of these six observers of the House of Israel – is gloomy and depressing. Yatom, for example, envisions “the end of the Jewish state.”

The sickness of corruption, my dear and honorable Zamir, is indeed a major malady, but it is curable. It is now being treated by quite good doctors – the police, the prosecution, the media and public opinion. Thanks to the healthy foundations of society – like you, for example – we always take courage and manage to remove from our midst (most of) what is contaminated and loathsome.

I dare say that even the sins in absorbing the immigrants from the lands of the East are to no small extent exaggerated. Dr. Zvi Zameret, who spent most of his adult life in outlying towns, proved a decade ago that the immigrants supposedly “dumped” from trucks in the desert in 1951, in Yeruham for example, were from Romania and Hungary. The first immigrants from Morocco arrived there only in 1955.

I of course share your pain and worry over corruption, especially in government, and share Admoni’s anguish – and, I believe, that of most people in Israel – over the rift in the nation. But his statement that this rift “is greater than at any other time” does not stand the test of history. I recommend that Admoni and you look at the newspapers (and books) from the time of the Altalena, the Wadi Salib and Yosseleh Shumacher affairs, the dark days of mutual incitement in the Oslo period. Most of these events, and many others, were harsh and difficult – quite incomparable to what is happening these days, and most of them happened when the government was from the other political camp. Then, for some reason, the moral and societal condition was not described as “grave.” In retrospect – justifiably not. The fact is that we overcame. Together.

Yes, despite all the trouble, never before in history has the Jewish state flourished the way it does today, nor has it been as secure as it is now. It is within my people, all of its far-flung parts, that I dwell. Moreover, during the week you described Israel’s situation as “grave,” the Bank of Israel published its annual report. “The economy of Israel is at its peak,” it stated.

Like many in Israel, you too are holding your breath in the face of what is about to happen (it’s the government’s fault of course) on Friday on the Gazan border. Remember, please, the various petitions and other acts of persuasion in which you stated (including some of you who were then “in uniform”) that disengagement would put an end to bombardments from the Gazan border, and the area would become Singapore. Yes, your joining forces with a corrupt prime minister to uproot Jews from their communities is incontrovertible proof of shortsightedness. The hell in which the Gaza Strip’s Arab citizens and the Jewish inhabitants of the communities near the border with Gaza have been living for the past 13 years is, largely, the outcome of your ability – then and now – to “predict the future.”

Not only haste, but also despair, gentleman, with such great credit to your name (truly!), is from the devil. A happy – and encouraging – holiday to you and the whole House of Israel.

United Nations urges restraint after Palestinian protest on Gaza border turns deadly

March 31, 2018

Hundreds of Palestinians have been injured and at least 15 killed by Israeli security forces facing down land protests on the Gaza-Israel border. The protests are to continue until the new US Embassy is opened.

 The United Nations on Saturday urged an independent and transparent investigation into the deaths of more than a dozen Palestinians on the first day of six weeks of protests in Gaza.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “those concerned to refrain from any act that could lead to further casualties,” in a statement through his spokesman Farhan Haq.

The UN Security Council has called a closed emergency meeting at the request of Kuwait to discuss the deadly clashes in Gaza.

At least 15 Palestinians were killed on Friday: Two of them by Israeli tank fire, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The same source said 400 people were wounded by live Israeli gunfire and others were struck by rubber bullets or treated for the effects of tear gas.

The violence broke out after tens of thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, gathered at five points along the fenced border of the blockaded territory. Protesters called for the return of tens of thousands of refugees who were expelled or fled during the war around Israel’s creation in 1948.

An injured Palestinian is carried on a stretcher (Getty Images/AFP/M. Abed)An injured Palestinian is carried on a stretcher

Organizers had urged demonstrators to stay away from the border area, but as the day wore on, hundreds of young people moved closer to the frontier, from where the Israeli military kept watch.

Disproportionate force?

The Israeli military said Palestinians rolled burning tires and threw stones at the Israeli forces, who responded with live bullets, tear gas and fired at what they called the “main instigators.”

Witnesses said the Israeli military used a drone to drop tear gas over at least one location. Three sites in particular were targeted with tank fire and an airstrike after the Israelis claimed there had been a shooting attack against their soldiers. No Israeli soldier was injured.

Palestinians and Turkish authorities accused Israel of using disproportionate force. The UN Security Council, which met on Friday night in New York, heard fears about a possible escalation of the violence.

“The risk of escalation is very real,” the French representative said. “There is the possibility of a new conflict in the Gaza Strip.”

The protest, which has the backing of Hamas, is expected to last more than six weeks, as US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital becomes final when the US Embassy moves to Jerusalem.

On Friday evening, organizers encouraged demonstrators to withdraw from the border area until Saturday.

‘A message to Trump’

“The Great March of Return is a message to Trump,” Ismail Haniyeh, the chief of the Hamas political bureau, told the crowds.

“There is no concession to Jerusalem, no alternative to Palestine, and no solution but to return. This is the Palestinian people taking the initiative and making the event for the sake of Palestine… for the sake of Jerusalem and the right of return,” Haniyeh said.

Hamas Chief Ismail HaniyehHamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh

The protests began as Palestinians marked Land Day, commemorating the killing of six unarmed Arab protesters in Israel in 1976.

Dubbed “The Great March of Return,” organizers said the rallies would continue until May 15, when Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” where more than 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes or were expelled during the war that led to the creation of Israel in 1948.

The date is one day after the new US Embassy in Jerusalem is expected to be formally opened.

According to the United Nations, about 1.3 million of Gaza’s 2 million residents are refugees or the descendants of refugees, and the protest is calling for them to be allowed to return to land that has been taken by Israel.

Tear gas was used against PalestiniansTear gas was used against Palestinians

mm/bw(AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)