Posts Tagged ‘Gaza Strip’

More Rockets From Gaza, More Israeli Air Strike in Retaliation — Israel, Militants Trade Fire for Eighth Straight Day

December 14, 2017


© AFP | A Palestinian child rescues belongings from his home which was damaged in an Israeli air strike on a nearby Hamas base in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on December 13, 2017

GAZA CITY (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) – Israel carried out a series of air strikes against Islamist group Hamas in Gaza early on Thursday, the army said, hours after rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave.In a statement, the Israeli army said it had targeted three Hamas military facilities in different parts of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

“The military facilities were used as training and weapons storage compounds,” the army said.

 Image may contain: night, sky and outdoor
Rocket fired from the Gaza Strip — FILE Photo

“This was in response to the projectiles fired at Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip.”

A Palestinian security source said there were more than 10 strikes on the targets, which included a Hamas naval facility and a military base near the Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza.

The source said there had been significant damage to the targets, as well as lesser damage to nearby houses, where some residents suffered minor injuries.

There was no immediate confirmation of the injuries from the health ministry in Gaza.

The strikes came hours after Israel’s air defence system intercepted two rockets fired from Gaza.

Such rockets are generally fired by fringe Islamist groups but Israel holds Gaza’s Hamas rulers responsible for any fire from the territory.

The army also announced it would close the border crossings between Gaza and Israel — Kerem Shalom for goods and Erez for people — from Thursday “due to the security events and in accordance with security assessments”.

A military spokeswoman could not say whether the closure would be for one day or more.

There has been an uptick in violence from Gaza since US President Donald Trump announced he would recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week.

Four Gazans have been killed, two in clashes along the border and two Hamas militants in an Israeli air strike in retaliation for rocket fire.


Gaza Tensions Rise as Israel, Militants Trade Fire for Eighth Straight Day

Israel strikes Hamas targets after three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel earlier on Wednesday

By Yaniv Kubovich Dec 14, 2017 10:11 AM

FILE PHOTO: An area reportedly hit by an Israeli strike in Beit Lahia, Gaza, Dec 12, 2017

FILE PHOTO: An area reportedly hit by an Israeli strike in Beit Lahia, Gaza, Dec 12, 2017 Mahmud Hams / AFP

The Israeli military struck three Hamas targets late Wednesday night in response to three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel earlier in the day, the IDF confirmed.

A statement from the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit noted that the targets struck were Hamas weapon storage facilities and training sites, and that Israel will not allow for its citizens to be harmed or targeted by “the Hamas terror organization that leads Gazan residents to a life of poverty, devastation, and despair.”

Three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel earlier Wednesday. Two were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and one fell into an open area as alarm sirens sounded in southern Israeli districts and cities including Sderot.

Magen David Adom emergency responders said that a 30-year-old man wounded his leg while running for cover, and two others were being treated for shock.

The rocket fire on Israel from the Gaza Strip Wednesday evening is returning the residents of the Gaza border region back to a state of tension they haven’t experienced since Operation Protective Edge over three years ago. No less than 15 rockets have been fired into Israeli territory since U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem, and although the Israel Defense Forces  has been showing restraint, it will have a hard time holding back for much longer.

Israel struck a Hamas military compound in the southern Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning after a rocket was fired from the Strip toward southern Israel Tuesday. The exchange was the latest incident in a week of escalated tensions along the border, marked by rocket fire at Israel by terror groups and responses in turn from the army.

The Health Ministry in Gaza on Wednesday said that three people in Gaza were lightly wounded in the Israeli strike.

The Israeli military said late Monday it struck Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for two rockets fired at southern Israel. One of the rockets was shot down by Israel’s missile defense system.

Yaniv Kubovich
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Palestinian Protests Following Trump Statement on Jerusalem Fade Without Making Much of an Impression — But Rocket Attacks on Israel May Start To Get A Harsher Response

December 12, 2017


Frequent rocket fire from Gaza would disturb the feeling of security and would put pressure on Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman to act more resolutely

Amos Harel Dec 12, 2017 6:21 PM

Since the evening of December 6, when U.S. President Donald Trump announced American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, eight rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into the Negev region. At least three other rockets were fired from Gaza but fell inside Palestinian territory. This is the largest number of rockets fired at Israel since the end of Operation Protective Edge, the war that Israel fought with Hamas and its allies during the summer of 2014.

The site in Sderot where a rocket fell on Dec. 8, 2017.

The site in the Israeli border town of Sderot where a rocket fired from Gaza fell on Dec. 8, 2017. Eliyahu Hershovitz

Israeli intelligence agencies attribute most of the rocket fire, if not all of it, to extremist Salafi factions that operate beyond Hamas’ direction. Israel has also identified preliminary steps taken by Hamas over the past few days to rein in the rocket fire, including the arrest of members of these organizations. In the past, the Hamas government in Gaza has known how to make the rules of the game that it has established with Israel clear to these smaller groups – and has adopted a harsh enforcement policy when it has understood that the rocket fire was endangering the stability of its rule in Gaza.

This time, either the message was not received or was not properly understood. It appears that in Gaza Trump’s declaration was seen as an opportunity to let off steam and attack Israeli civilian population centers.


The stage of the large demonstrations by Palestinians protesting Trump’s declaration is slowly coming to an end, without leaving much of an impression on the international community, or on Trump either.

Now there is a shift to a different approach involving firing rockets from the Gaza Strip, a period during which one “lone wolf” terrorist attack also occurred, involving the stabbing by a Palestinian at the Jerusalem central bus station of a security guard, who was seriously wounded.

The Israeli response to the rocket fire from Gaza has been rather restrained so far. As has been its custom in the past, Israel has said that it views Hamas as the party responsible for violence coming from its territory – and has exacted a price from it by bombing Hamas positions and command headquarters. But the Israeli attacks have generally been carried out when the targets were empty, and the attacks have been planned in such a way as to limit the damage. In one case, last Friday, a member of the Hamas military wing was killed, and the Hamas leadership felt Israel had gone too far. For now, it seems that the Israeli leadership does not want to rock the boat to too great an extent in Gaza.

The Israeli government’s problem is that it does not fully control of the situation. Continued rocket fire and “red alert” rocket sirens will exact a psychological price from the Israeli residents in the region near the Gaza border, who have enjoyed a relatively long period of quiet and a major influx of new residents, as a result of a building boom and government tax breaks for the region following Operation Protective Edge. The traumatic experiences of Protective Edge and other previous periods, during military operations in Gaza and between them, are still remembered quite well in Sderot, Ashkelon and the nearby collective moshavim and kibbutzim communities.

Iron Dome anti-missile batteries intercepted two of the rockets fired over the past few days – and missed one rocket, which fell in a populated area in Sderot but did not cause any injuries. The Israel army made a change recently in how it calculates the area where the rockets are projected to fall (known as the “polygon”), thereby only requiring that alarms sound in a very small and more focused area, and limiting the disruption to local routines in border communities near Gaza.

Nevertheless, rocket fire every day, or every other day, would disturb the feeling of security that had been restored with difficulty and would create pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to act more resolutely. The distance could be short from that to another round of violence.

The latest tensions are occurring against the backdrop of the Israeli army’s announcement Sunday that it had successfully destroyed another attack tunnel dug well inside Israeli territory that was discovered along the border with Gaza, the second in less than two months. It appears, however, that Hamas’ actions are influenced first and foremost by another factor, its reconciliation agreement with the Palestinian Authority.


So far the commitments included in the agreement have not been carried out. That’s the case when it comes to the opening of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt and the resumption of funding for Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

As far as Hamas is concerned, the bad news is coming from almost all directions: Trump’s announcement, the Israeli army’s success in locating attack tunnels and the difficulties with Palestinian reconciliation. If Hamas cannot deliver the goods to Gaza’s residents, who have been waiting with bated breath for a measure of improvement in their economic situation and freedom of movement, Hamas could well find itself dragged once again into an escalation with Israel – as it has acted in the past.

This is the main worry keeping Israel’s senior defense officials and political leadership busy at the moment, and it explains the relatively restrained Israeli response – restraint that could end if the frequent rocket fire continues, and certainly if the rockets inflict casualties.

Amos Harel
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Palestinians miss major reconciliation deadline

December 11, 2017


© AFP/File / by Adel Zaanoun | Palestinians wave the national flag during a demonstration in Gaza City on December 3, 2017, in support of the reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah, though the two groups then missed a deadline for talks December 10, 2017

GAZA CITY (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) – Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have missed a major deadline in their reconciliation bid by failing to transfer power in the Gaza Strip, with the rivals on Monday trading accusations of blame.US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has further complicated an already difficult attempt to transfer power in Gaza from Islamist movement Hamas back to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip, have seen protests and clashes each day since Trump’s declaration on Wednesday.

Sunday had been the deadline for the handover, a decade after Hamas seized power in the Palestinian enclave in a near civil war with president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank.

An Egyptian-brokered agreement in early October originally set a December 1 deadline for full transfer of power back to the PA, which is dominated by Fagah, though that was later pushed back to December 10.

In Gaza, the situation was essentially unchanged despite the deadline, with Hamas police still patrolling the streets, while crippling electricity shortages endured.

Hamas claimed on Saturday it had handed over control of all government ministries, but Fatah’s top negotiator later said “obstacles” remained.

PA government spokesman Yousef Mahmud said Monday it had not received full control in key ministries.

In a statement on official Palestinian news agency WAFA, he accused Hamas of seeking to stop the handover.

Fawzy Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, told AFP that Mahmud’s statement was an attempt to “cover up the government’s failure to carry out its duties to the people of Gaza”.

Palestinians and international players had hoped that a reconciliation deal could lead to the easing of Israeli and Egyptian blockades on Gaza, reducing the suffering of the two million people largely trapped in the enclave.

Both sides still publicly said they remain committed to the reconciliation, but fears that it could collapse are growing.

– ‘A dead end’ –

They appear no closer to an agreement about the future of Hamas?s vast military wing, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, while they must still resolve the issue of two separate civil administrations.

Abbas has also not yet lifted sanctions against Hamas, including cutting payments for electricity, further worsening an already severe power shortage in Gaza.

There was already little optimism about achieving a full handover by December 10, but Trump’s controversial announcement has added further complications.

The Palestinian government has called for wide-scale peaceful protests against it, but Hamas has called for violence — hailing attacks against Israelis as the start of a new violent intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Four Palestinians in Gaza, including two Hamas fighters, were killed either in clashes with Israeli forces or by Israeli air strikes in retaliation for rocket fire on Friday and Saturday.

Naji Sharab, political science professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said Trump’s move made the reconciliation bid harder.

“Some want uprising and others don’t. Some want a military escalation and some don’t,” he told AFP. “With the Jerusalem issue, they cannot continue.”

Jamal al-Fadi, a politics professor, said he feared the process could now collapse.

“I believe that in the short term it will hold, but the issue of reconciliation will come back to the top of the agenda considering the needs of the people for solutions.”

“It seems that the process has reached a dead end.”

by Adel Zaanoun


Erdogan: Israel a ‘terrorist state’ that ‘kills children’

December 10, 2017

Times of Israel

Turkish president vows to use all means to fight US recognition of Jerusalem


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the Justice and Development (AK) Party's provincial heads meeting in Ankara, November 17, 2017. ( AFP/ADEM ALTAN)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the Justice and Development (AK) Party’s provincial heads meeting in Ankara, November 17, 2017. ( AFP/ADEM ALTAN)

The Times of Israel is liveblogging Sunday’s developments as they unfold.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a 'terrorist state' and a 'killer of children' as he lashed out following Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as its capital

Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a ‘terrorist state’ and a ‘killer of children’ as he lashed out following Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as its capital

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Shin Bet: Jerusalem terrorist entered Israel illegally

The Shin Bet security service says the terrorist who stabbed and seriously injured a security guard in Jerusalem entered Israel illegally.

The 24-year-old Palestinian had a permit allowing him to work in the so-called “seam region,” surrounding the West Bank, but not inside Israel proper, the service says.

The terrorist is from the Nablus area and had no previously known terrorist ties, the Shin Bet says.

— Judah Ari Gross


Netanyahu meets Macron in Paris

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris, where he is greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Over lunch, the two are expected to discuss the status of Jerusalem, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Iran nuclear deal and the future of Syria.

Late today, they will hold a joint press conference, before Netanyahu heads to Brussels for a series of meetings with top European Union officials.

 Raphael Ahren


Pope urges ‘wisdom and prudence’ on Jerusalem

Pope Francis on Sunday renews a call for “wisdom and prudence” over the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“The Holy Father renews his appeal for the wisdom and prudence of everyone, and raises fervent prayers so that the leaders of nations, at this serious moment, commit themselves to avert a new spiral of violence,” a statement from the Vatican says.



Police: Jerusalem terrorist a 24-year-old Palestinian

Police say the Jerusalem bus station stabber is a 24-year-old Palestinian man.

He was apprehended after a police officer and a civilian chased him down after he carried out the suspected terror attack, police say.


Hospital: Stabbing victim’s injuries ‘very serious’

The Shaare Zedek Medical Center admits the injured security guard for treatment.

The hospital describes his condition as “very serious.”

The guard is “sedated and on a respirator,” the hospital says in a statement.


Jerusalem stabber ‘neutralized,’ police say

Police say the Jerusalem bus station stabber has been “neutralized.”

His condition is not immediately known.

Security guard stabbed outside Jerusalem bus station

A security guard is stabbed in the chest and seriously wounded at the entrance to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, emergency officials say.

Police are searching for the assailant.

Medics from the Magen David Adom ambulance service are treating the injured guard, who is approximately 25 years old

It is not immediately clear if the stabbing is a terror attack.

— Judah Ari Gross


Erdogan: Israel a ‘terrorist state’ that ‘kills children’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan describes Israel as a “terrorist state” Sunday and vows to use “all means to fight” against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital.

“Palestine is an innocent victim… As for Israel, it is a terrorist state, yes, terrorist!” Erdogan says in a speech in the central city of Sivas. “We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children.”



Bennett says tunnels will be destroyed ‘within a year or two’

Education Minister Naftali Bennett says Israel will destroy Hamas’s terror tunnels network “within a year or two.”

His estimate appears to conflict with that by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who said the threat could be removed within “months.”

“Within a year or two we will topple Hamas’s leading project, the terror tunnels, so now is a time to be extra alert. We must also prepare for new aerial or naval threats, since Hamas is always looking to innovate,” Bennett says, after the IDF announces it demolished another cross-border tunnel.

“Today, those digging tunnels are digging their death trap,” says Bennett.

“The destruction of the tunnel is the result of a clear policy against terror. Security forces have developed a systematic system for the location and destruction of the tunnels. It will take time, but Hamas’s tunnels will crumble.”


Intelligence minister: ‘Tunnel threat era’ nearing its end

Echoing Defense Minister Liberman, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz also says the “era of the tunnel threat” will soon be over.

“I welcome the successful operation of the IDF that neutralized the tunnel that penetrated the territory of the State of Israel,” says Katz in a statement. “This action conveys a clear message that the era of the tunnel threat is nearing an end.”

The intelligence minister says the discovery of the cross-border tunnel proves the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal will not come to fruition.

“The discovery and detonation of the tunnel proves once again the justice of Israel’s decision not to recognize the imaginary reconciliation government between Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] and Hamas that is being formed these days. While Abu Mazen talks about peace and political agreements, Hamas is digging tunnels and preparing for war.”

Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz attends a press conference at the Transportation Ministry in Jerusalem on March 14, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Lebanon breaks up anti-Trump protest outside US embassy

Lebanese security forces break up a protest outside the heavily guarded US Embassy after demonstrators pelt them with stones.

The protesters gathered early Sunday hundreds of meters outside the embassy to reject the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. After a rowdy start, the protest drew several hundred people and became more peaceful, with demonstrators chanting and singing.

The clashes resumed in the afternoon, with security forces chasing protesters, arresting a handful of them and lobbing tear gas canisters.

Lebanon is home to 450,000 Palestinian refugees, nearly 10 percent of the population.

— AP


Defense minister says tunnel threat could be gone in ‘months’

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says he “hopes in the coming months, the tunnel threat to the citizens of the Gaza periphery will become a thing of the past.”

He speaks after the army announces it destroyed over the weekend another attack tunnel coming from the southern Gaza Strip that entered Israeli territory.

The defense minister hails Israel’s new technologies to detect the cross-border passages dug by Hamas.

The tunnels “are a threat we will not abide and we will invest all resources to thwart it,” he says.

Anti-Trump protests wane in Jerusalem, West Bank; flare in Beirut

December 10, 2017

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Palestinian protests waned in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip on Sunday while violence flared near the U.S. embassy in Beirut over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Four days of protests in the Palestinian territories over Trump’s announcement on Wednesday had largely died down, but his overturning of long-standing U.S. policy on Jerusalem — a city holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians — drew more Arab warnings of potential damage to prospects for Middle East peace.

“Our hope is that everything is calming down and that we are returning to a path of normal life without riots and without violence,” Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Army Radio.

But Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, said the situation threatens to stoke violence.

Image result for Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, photos

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan

“The U.S. move could throw a lifebuoy to terrorist and armed groups, which have begun to lose ground in the region,” he said.

In Beirut, meanwhile, Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water canons at protesters, some of them waving Palestinian flags, near the U.S. embassy.

Demonstrators set fires in the street, torched U.S. and Israeli flags and threw projectiles toward security forces that had barricaded the main road to the complex.

Along Israel’s tense frontier with the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military on Sunday destroyed what it described as a “significant” cross-border attack tunnel dug by the enclave’s dominant Islamist group, Hamas.

There was no immediate comment on the demolition, which came as Palestinian factions tried to meet Sunday’s deadline for an Egyptian-mediated handover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas after a decade’s schism.

Pre-dawn Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday killed two Palestinian gunmen after militants fired rockets from the area into Israel on Friday.


In the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Sunday, thousands protested outside the U.S. embassy, many waving banners saying “Palestine is in our hearts”.

Leaders in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, have joined a global chorus of condemnation of Trump’s announcement, including from Western allies.

Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo on Saturday urged the United States to abandon its decision and said the move would spur violence throughout the region.

Israel says that all of Jerusalem is its capital, while Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in a 1967 war, to be occupied territory and say the status of the city should be decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to critics in a statement before talks in Paris on Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron, to be followed by a meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels.

“I hear (from Europe) voices of condemnation over President Trump’s historic announcement, but I have not heard any condemnation for the rocket firing against Israel that has come (after the announcement) and the awful incitement against us,” Netanyahu said.

The Trump administration has said it is still committed to reviving Palestinian-Israeli talks that collapsed in 2014.

It said Israel’s capital would be in Jerusalem under any serious peace plan, adding that it has not taken a position with regard to the city’s borders.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has said the Palestinians will be looking for a new peace talks broker instead of the United States and would seek a United Nations Security Council resolution over Trump’s decision.

Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Tom Perry in Beirut, Agustinus Beo Da Costa in Jakarta and Sami Aboudi in Dubai; Editing by David Goodman

Israel destroys cross-border tunnel — Hamas uses tunnels to infiltrate into Israeli territory

December 10, 2017
 DECEMBER 10, 2017 12:00


The tunnel “is a flagrant violation of Israel’s sovereignty and cannot be accepted,” said IDF Spokesman Brig-Gen. Ronen Manelis.

The Israeli army destroyed a large Hamas tunnel which had infiltrated into Israeli territory from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, IDF Spokesman Brig-Gen. Ronen Manelis announced on Sunday.

The tunnel, which stretched a few hundred meters into southern Israel was identified several weeks ago using  “unique tools combined with advanced technology, intelligence and operational capabilities,” Manelis said.

The neutralization, which was done by the IDF’s Southern Command, “is a necessary defensive action to prevent harm to civilians and soldiers,” he said, adding that “it was a quiet neutralization. No one heard it. But the tunnel has been destroyed.”

IDF forces destroy a cross-border Hamas tunnel on December 9, 2017. (IDF SPOKESMAN'S UNIT)IDF forces destroy a cross-border Hamas tunnel on December 9, 2017. (IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)

“Locating two terror tunnels in recent weeks is an operational success based on advanced technology, attesting to a rise in the level of the tools developed and used by the IDF.”

In late October the IDF destroyed a cross-border Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) attack tunnel, killing 12 terrorists including two senior Islamic Jihad commanders and two Hamas members. The group threatened to retaliate against Israel for the deaths of its members, leading the IDF to deploy Iron Dome missile defense batteries in central Israel.

Two weeks ago the group fired 12 projectiles aimed at the IDF post and a cement factory on the northeastern edge of the Gaza Strip where construction crews are working on Israel’s new underground barrier with the Strip.

According to Manelis, while the tunnel destroyed on Sunday was discovered several weeks ago, there was no connections between the PIJ barrage and the tunnel.

The tunnel destroyed on Sunday was found deeper in Israeli territory than the tunnel belonging to PIJ, which was found on the border and was in advanced stages of construction, Manelis said, stressing that Hamas had put significant effort into it.

The IDF has been investing extensive effort in locating cross-border tunnels from Gaza after several soldiers were killed by Hamas militants during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, when they emerged from numerous tunnels dug into Israel by the terror group.  Hamas’ tunnel infrastructure surprised the IDF and left the residents of border communities concerned of possible tunnels beneath their homes.

According to Manelis, civilian communities were not threatened at any moment by the tunnel [which was at least 1 kilometer from the nearest community] which “is a flagrant violation of Israel’s sovereignty and cannot be accepted.”

In response to the tunnel threat, Israel has begun building a state-of-the-art underground barrier, which has a system of advanced sensor and monitoring devices to detect tunnels combined with a 6 m. high above-ground smart fence.

While the IDF is confident that no tunnel will be able to cross the underground barrier, there remains a large amount of construction on the barrier which has yet to be completed, including in the area where the tunnel was located.

The destruction of the tunnel did not lead to any deaths, Manelis said, adding that even if there were he was “not sorry,” and that Israel will continue to take all measures at its disposal to destroy any cross-border tunnels.

“I advise any group who wants to threaten Israel to think twice,” he said. “These tunnels will be a death trap to anyone inside.”

#IDF announced that a new terrorist attack tunnel, penetrating several hundred meters into Israel, was destroyed overnight. Israeli Engineers, intelligence, and technology combined made this possible. This is the second attack tunnel destroyed in a few weeks.

Saudi Arabia calls on US to back down on Jerusalem decision

December 10, 2017

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. (AFP)

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday called on the US administration to back down from a recent decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said: “my government calls on the US administration to back down from its decision and support the international will to enable the Palestinian people to regain their legitimate rights, taking into account that this step, although it will not change or prejudice the firm rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem and other occupied territories, it represents a significant retreat in efforts to push the peace process forward and a disruption of the US position.”
Al-Jubeir, in a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, added: “We call upon the international community to intensify its efforts to push forward the peace process in order to put an end to this historic conflict within the framework of a permanent, just and comprehensive solution based on the resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative to enable the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate rights in an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to establish peace, security and stability in the region and the world at large.”
The Arab League meeting, which brings together foreign ministers from member states, is taking place as protests continued for the third consecutive day in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
US President Donald Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, and his intention to move the US Embassy there, triggered denunciations from around the world, with even close allies suggesting he had needlessly stirred more conflict in an already volatile region.

— With input from agencies


Protests flare on ‘day of rage’ by Palestinians after Trump’s Jerusalem pronouncement — More expected Friday, Saturday

December 8, 2017

Fallout continues from Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

By Samir Zedan, Nabih Bulos
The Los Angeles Times

Protests erupted throughout the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and cities across the Middle East on Thursday in what was dubbed a “day of rage” after President Trump‘s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump announced on Wednesday that he would “officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” sparking worldwide condemnation, including from Washington’s closest allies in the region. Some Palestinian leaders called for a new intifada, or uprising, in response to the move.

In the wake of his speech, Palestinian factions called for a general strike on Thursday, and the Palestinian Education Ministry canceled classes so that students and teachers could participate in the demonstrations.

Thousands of residents poured into major thoroughfares in Ramallah, Jericho, Hebron and Bethlehem in the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.

Although both sides have long claimed their right to Jerusalem, recent iterations of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process have designated East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

“How can the president of the United States flout international resolutions and ignore the feelings of millions of Arabs and Muslims?” asked Suha Arrar, a 43-year-old employee at the Palestinian Ministry of Health. She said she had come out to protest “the unprecedented arrogance of the U.S. administration.”

Ahmed Ghneim, a leader with the Palestinian faction Fatah, expressed his rejection of the Trump decision, adding that the “honeymoon” between Trump and Netanyahu would not come without costs.

“For 30 years, the Palestinian leadership thought the U.S. was the key to the solution,” he said. “Trump’s decision proved this key is not suitable for any solution.”

Mustafa Barghouthi, a Palestinian politician in the West Bank, insisted that Trump’s decision “forbids Palestinians from having any contact with the U.S.,” which, he said, “has completely lost its role as a broker of the peace process.”

“We must now unite behind an uprising that is based on nonviolence as Palestinian protests succeeded in removing the electronic gates at the entrance to the Aqsa Mosque in the summer.”

Clashes flared between the protesters and Israeli troops, who deployed water cannons and fired what appeared to be rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

At Qalandiya, the checkpoint for Palestinians crossing between the West Bank and East Jerusalem, young Palestinian men hunkered behind garbage containers before hurling rocks at nearby Israeli soldiers firing tear gas.

Video uploaded to social media showed a throng of Israeli soldiers racing through a deserted thoroughfare in Hebron while others grabbed a number of demonstrators and led them away.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said in a statement on Thursday it had treated more than 108 wounded in Gaza and the West Bank, adding that a number had been shot with live ammunition.

In the largely Christian town of Beit Jala, a man was taken into custody after he rammed a truck into several vehicles, injuring at least seven people and damaging at least 22 vehicles, witnesses said. In protest, residents blocked a main road, demanding that Palestinian police provide them with proper protection. Some speculated that the unidentified driver, who fled the scene and was later captured by Israeli forces and turned over to Palestinian authorities, targeted Christians because of Trump, but that could not be confirmed.

Ismail Haniyah, head of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, said Trump’s announcement marked “a new equation” in the “Satanic alliance” between the U.S and Israel that could “only be confronted by launching the spark of a new intifada.” He added that Jerusalem was “unified,” and was Palestinian.

“There is no existence for Israel on the land of Palestine. It has no presence on the land of Palestine for it to have a capital,” he said. “We declare… that what is called the peace process has been buried… and forever.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority president and head of Fatah Mahmoud Abbass began a round of diplomatic maneuvering by meeting Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman on Thursday, where police had cut off roads leading to the U.S. Embassy in the West Amman neighborhood of Abdoun to prevent protesters from reaching its grounds.

Both leaders, according to a statement issued by Jordanian state Petra, “affirmed that any measure to tamper with the historical and legal status of Jerusalem is null and void and will only lead to more tension and violence in the region and the world.”

Other regional governments echoed the sentiment, with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying on Thursday it was a “step that would throw… this region into a ring of fire.”

“What would you like to do [with this step], Mr. Trump? What kind of stance is it?” said Erdogan in a press conference in Ankara, according to Turkish state news operator Anadolu.

The Iraqi foreign ministry also summoned U.S. ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman to register its displeasure.

Even arch-rivals Tehran and Riyadh, in a rare moment of unity, described the decision as a bad one, with Tehran saying it would incite Muslims, spark an uprising and encourage extremism, and Riyadh calling it an “irresponsible and unwarranted” step.

Still, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif couldn’t resist taking a jab at the Saudis on Wednesday, tweeting that “if half the money spent by some of the rulers of the area to encourage terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and incitement against neighbors had been spent to liberate Palestine, we would not today be facing this American advance.”

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump for his “historic announcement,” insisting that other countries would soon follow suit and move their embassies to Jerusalem.

The Czech Republic, indeed, declared West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel shortly after Trump’s statement.

“Good morning and welcome to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish state of Israel,” said Netanyahu to a group of diplomats on Thursday in Jerusalem, according to the local daily newspaper Times of Israel. “If you weren’t aware of that until yesterday, you are now. But we’ve been aware of it for 3,000 years.”

In his speech, Trump said it was “time for the many [in the region] who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midst.” Yet the move appeared to have emboldened the very forces Trump seeks to undermine.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group’s Yemeni branch, said in a statement on Wednesday that Trump’s decision “was nothing more than the result of the steps toward normalization between a number of governments in the region, especially those in the [Persian] Gulf, and the Jewish occupation.”

Another Al Qaeda arm, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — which operates in Algeria, Mali and Mauritania — also blamed the “traitorous apostate [Arab] rulers.”

Despite the escalation in rhetoric from Palestinian factions, some believed the announcement represented nothing new.

“People just woke up now and realized Jerusalem is occupied? It’s been under full Israeli control for decades,” said Manal Abboud, a 39-year-old schoolteacher and resident of of East Jerusalem standing near the Damascus Gate.

The U.S. Congress had passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, which stipulated the embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since then, presidents have utilized a six-month waiver to postpone the move.

But others saw Trump’s decision as proof that, despite recent overtures from Arab leaders to the president, Arab nations have become a nonissue for the U.S.

“Look at all the things the U.S. has done in the last 40 years, the only conclusion in the way they treat us is that we are dispensable: The oil is flowing, the arms sales are continuing, the terrorists are pretty much contained, and so we just don’t matter,” said Rami Khouri, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Middle East Initiative.

Khouri said Trump’s actions told him and other Palestinians that “I’m a piece of dirt, I have no rights, no voice, no meaning, no relevance, no strategic value … nothing.”

“Listening to Trump’s speech,” Khouri said, “I had the feeling of total nonexistence that I haven’t felt since June 1967,” when Israel’s forces annexed Jerusalem.


Hundreds more Israeli police deployed ahead of main Muslim prayers

December 8, 2017


© AFP | Israeli forces disperse Palestinian protesters outside the Damascus Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City on December 7, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel deployed hundreds of additional police officers on Friday following Palestinian calls for protests after the main weekly Muslim prayers against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”Several hundred additional police and border police have been deployed inside and in the vicinity of the Old City,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

The situation was calm early Friday in Jerusalem’s Old City, the location of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam and where thousands typically attend the main weekly prayers.

Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, was calling for a “day of rage” on Friday and protests were expected over Trump’s move on Wednesday recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The disputed city lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both sides seeing it as their capital.

Trump’s announced Jerusalem embassy move sparks anger, protests — Palestinian president claims world support

December 8, 2017

A Palestinian protester in the West Bank city of Ramallah burns tires on Thursday during clashes with Israeli troops following protests against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (AP)

JEDDAH/JERUSALEM: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday he is rallying international opposition to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which he called an “unacceptable crime.”
At a meeting with Jordan’s king, Abbas said that he rejects Trump’s decision and believes America has hurt its credibility in the region.

Abbas said the Palestinians have been rallying Arab support as they formulate a response. He said he has been communicating with other world leaders.
“Fortunately, there was a positive response from all the countries in the world, from Europe and from Africa and countries close to America that don’t support the US,” he said. “These all are messages to Trump that what he did is an unacceptable crime.”
Abbas is trying to organize a three-way summit with King Abdallah of Jordan and President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt, Hamadeh Faraneh, a member of the Palestinian National Council, told the Amman-based radio Al Balad.
Saudi Arabia expressed “great disappointment” over Trump’s announcement. In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the royal court said the Kingdom had previously warned of the serious consequences of such an “irresponsible and unwarranted step.”
The statement said: “The Kingdom expresses its denunciation and deep regret that the (Trump) administration has taken this step, as it represents a great bias against the historic and permanent rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, which have been affirmed by the relevant international resolutions and have been recognized and supported by the international community.”
Hundreds of Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli troops across the West Bank while demonstrators in Gaza burned posters of President Donald Trump.
The leader of Hamas, which runs Gaza, called for a new armed uprising in a widespread show of anger, as the demonstrators torched American and Israeli flags.
The Israeli military said it struck targets in the Gaza Strip in response to projectiles fired at Israel.
In the West Bank, crowds of protesters set tires on fire and hurled stones at Israeli troops. In Bethlehem, troops fired water cannons and tear gas to disperse a crowd, in clashes that could cloud the upcoming Christmas celebrations. In Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government, protesters set tires on fire, sending a thick plume of black smoke over the city.
Palestinians shuttered their schools and shops on Thursday to begin three “days of rage.”
The Israeli military said it would deploy several battalions to the West Bank ahead of Friday, while other troops have been put on alert to address “possible developments.”
Dozens of civilians were wounded by rubber bullets during the clashes with the Israeli forces following demonstrations.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said its crews dealt with 108 injuries, some with live bullets, during the confrontations in many cities and towns including Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Jenin, the borders of Khan Yunis and the center of Gaza Strip.
In Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps, protesters burned tires and fired in the air, as their leaders called for a “day of rage” on Thursday and a “total shutdown in all camps.”
Hundreds of Palestinian refugees in southern Lebanon took to the streets in spontaneous protest at Trump’s decision.”Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine,” said a refugee in Ain Al-Hilweh camp. “This is what our history says, and what books and international resolutions say.”
Jordanian demonstrators torched the US flag and pictures of Trump during a protest near the American Embassy in Amman.
Dozens of riot police cars surrounded the fortified embassy compound to keep protesters at bay and policemen deployed in the area.
Hundreds of hard-liners rallied in major cities across Pakistan.
The demonstrators dispersed peacefully after Thursday’s rallies in the capital, Islamabad. Similar anti-US rallies were also held in Karachi, the country’s largest city, and in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, as well as in the city of Multan in Punjab province.