Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian Authority’

Palestinians Teach the World About Resistance in Struggle Against Israel, U.S.

January 18, 2019

On a cold winter’s night earlier this month, a convoy of 10 Israeli armored jeeps drove into the heart of the West Bank city of Ramallah and parked in front of the Palestinian police headquarters.

Soldiers fanned out, searching nearby shops for security cameras after a pair of recent shooting attacks against Israelis in the occupied territory. The raid attracted dozens of stone-throwing Palestinians, and the Israelis responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

It was the latest in a series of Israeli raids into urban areas that the Palestinians say undermine their own US-trained security forces. Those forces have been coordinating operations with Israel in the West Bank for years but ties have frayed as the peace process ground to a halt.

Palestinians evacuate an injured protester during clashes with Israeli forces over the weekend of january 12-13, 2019, along the Gaza border with Israel. (AFP)

“This humiliates the Palestinian Authority,” said Zakariya Musleh, head of Palestinian military intelligence. “It’s a clear message from the occupying power that we are not a partner for peace.”

The Palestinian Authority has faced mounting protests over the security coordination as the Trump administration pursues policies seen by critics as obliterating whatever chance remains for a two-state solution, from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to cutting off economic aid to the Palestinians.

And yet the security coordination with Israel has endured for more than a decade, through one crisis after another, including three wars in Gaza and clashes at Jerusalem’s holiest site.

This is in part because the Palestinian Authority and Israel have a shared enemy in the Hamas militant group, which drove Palestinian security forces from Gaza in a week of street clashes in 2007, less than two years after Israel withdrew from the territory.

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli forces across the border fence, during clashes following a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Gaza City on January 11, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli forces across the border fence, during clashes following a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Gaza City on January 11, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The Israeli military declined to comment on the recent raids or the security cooperation.

Alon Eviatar, a retired Israeli colonel who served in the Palestinian territories for nearly three decades, said Israel is aware of the political pressure the Palestinian Authority faces. He said Israeli forces only launch their own West Bank raids in “sensitive cases” when they need to quickly apprehend an assailant or act on highly classified intelligence.

“The Israeli side was afraid (of) a real escalation in the West Bank, especially in Ramallah,” he said, referring to last month’s shootings, in which gunmen killed two Israeli soldiers at a West Bank bus stop and wounded seven Israelis outside a settlement, including a pregnant woman whose baby later died. Israeli forces killed one of the suspected gunmen in December and arrested the other earlier this month. Both were found north of Ramallah.

A Palestinian carries an injured youth as he runs with others from tear gas fumes during clashes with Israeli forces during a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Gaza City on January 11, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Palestinian security forces will face another setback at the end of January, when the US is required to cut off its financial assistance because of a law known as the Anti-Terrorism Cooperation Act that was passed with bipartisan support last year.

Under the law, the Palestinian Authority would be disqualified from receiving any US aid unless it agrees to pay court judgments of up to hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of American victims of Palestinian attacks. The deadline for accepting that condition is Jan. 31. The administration and some pro-Israel members of Congress have been looking for ways to preserve the aid, but it’s unlikely a fix will be found until after the shutdown ends.

Palestinian protesters run through tear gas fumes during clashes with Israeli forces following a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Gaza City on January 11, 2019

Palestinian protesters run through tear gas fumes during clashes with Israeli forces following a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Gaza City on January 11, 2019 AFP

The court settlements far exceed the aid itself, which totaled $61 million last year. The US has provided more than $850 million to support the Palestinian security forces since 2007, when it ramped up assistance after Hamas seized Gaza.

Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the looming cuts should be of more concern to the United States and Israel than to the Palestinians.

“They want that security support,” he said. “The most unpopular thing we are doing now here is security coordination with the Israelis. Believe me, that’s not the way to put pressure on us.”

The US aid is mainly spent on training and equipment, and salaries will not be affected. Israel is believed to support the US assistance, but the prime minister’s office declined to comment on the looming cuts.

As unpopular as the security coordination is, no one expects it to end anytime soon. The Palestine Liberation Organization’s mini-parliament called for ending security coordination with Israel last year, the latest in a long line of heated statements and empty threats.

Abbas has always been staunchly opposed to violence. Cutting ties with Israel would presumably lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. Israeli forces are deployed across the occupied West Bank, at military bases and checkpoints between and around nearly every Palestinian town and city.

The funding and training of Palestinian security forces was historically seen as part of the process of building an independent state. But there have been no meaningful peace talks in a decade, and the Palestinians cut all contacts with the Trump administration when it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, effectively siding with Israel on one of the most divisive issues in the decades-old conflict.

These days, Abbas relies on the security forces to preserve his increasingly unpopular rule. The security forces have helped keep a tight lid on Hamas in the West Bank, where they have been accused of human rights abuses. They have also used force to break up protests against Abbas’ policies.

Alaa Lahlouh, a former Palestinian officer who now researches security issues at the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, says the security coordination is deeply unpopular, but that authorities maintain it for political and personal reasons.

“The Palestinian Authority believes the security cooperation with Israel and the United States will enhance its role as a political partner,” he said, adding that they also cooperate for personal reasons. Israel grants special movement privileges to senior Palestinian officials, allowing them to avoid crowded checkpoints.

The raids in Ramallah meanwhile cause “huge damage,” Lahlouh said. “It shows the (Palestinian Authority) is useless in the face of Israel and only powerful when it comes to confronting its own people.”

Associated Press


What Real Border Security Looks Like — Why is it so hard for America to do what others did a long time ago

January 11, 2019

Republicans and Democrats should agree to build an Israeli-style “smart fence.”

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

Other than the Korean Peninsula’s DMZ, there’s probably no border in the world as fraught with the potential for sudden violence as this one, known locally as the Blue Line. Since President Trump thinks border security is the issue of our time, it’s worth considering how Israel — with tight borders, real threats, and a no-nonsense attitude toward its security needs — does it.

What I saw on Wednesday while traveling along the Blue Line was … a fence. A fence studded with sensors, to be sure, but by no means an imposing one. As the accompanying photos show, here is what a long stretch of the border between two sworn enemies looks like.

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 New section of fence, north of Eilat, Israel–Egypt border

And here is a Hezbollah observation post, masquerading as an environmental group operating under the slogan, “Green Without Borders.” (Green is the traditional color of Islam.) The Israelis maintain an equally visible, if outwardly low-key, security presence.

Does that look like Trump’s idea of a “big beautiful wall”? Does it even look like the “steel slats” the president now offers as his idea of an aesthetic concession to Democrats? Not quite. Yet for the last 19 years it was all the fencing Israelis thought was necessary to secure its side of the Blue Line.

barrier wall

Israel’s wall: Children play soccer in the Palestinian town Anata, Nov. 25, 2005.  Photo by Yotam Ronen

That started to change in December, after Israel announced that it was conducting an operation to destroy tunnels dug by Hezbollah under the border. The tunnel construction — secretly detected by Israel some four years ago — was intended to infiltrate hundreds of Hezbollah fighters into Israel in the event of war. As an additional precaution, Jerusalem is spending an estimated $600 million to replace about 20 kilometers of the fence with a concrete wall, mainly to provide greater peace of mind to the 162,000 Israelis who live near the Lebanese border.

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Turkey’s smart wall under construction: “Apart from illustration, we have set up a system with solar energy. We developed the systems of illustration, camera and censor.” (see link below)

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A section of the border fence between Israel and Egypt, January 2012. (Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)

Such a wall may look formidable. But it won’t stop tunnel construction or missile firing, the two principal threats Hezbollah poses to Israel. Nor has Israel felt the need to erect concrete walls along most of its border with the Gaza Strip, despite Hamas’s multiple attempts last year to use mass protests to breach the fence. Israel’s border with Egypt is marked by a tall and sturdy “smart fence” packed with electronic sensors, but not a wall. And Israel’s longest border, with Jordan, stretching some 400 kilometers (about 250 miles), has fencing that for the most part is primitive and minimal.

A big portion of the border between Israel and Lebanon looks like this.Credit Bret Stephens/The New York Times
A Hezbollah observation post disguised as an environmental group’s station. Credit Bret Stephens/The New York Times

So how does Israel maintain border security? Two ways: close cooperation with neighbors where it’s possible and the use of modern technology and effective deterrence where it’s not.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi recently attested to the depth of cooperation in an interview last week with 60 Minutes — so deep, in fact, that the Egyptian government made an attempt to stop the interview from airing. Jordan’s border patrol typically does its work facing east, not west, to prevent possible penetrations into Israel. Security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority also runs deep despite political differences, since Mahmoud Abbas shares Israel’s interest in suppressing Hamas.

As for technology, I saw it at work on a tour earlier Wednesday of an Israeli military base on the Golan Heights. In a crowded, windowless room within a bunker-like structure, 20 or so women soldiers, some of them still teenagers, sat at screens patiently watching every inch of Israel’s border with Syria, noticing patterns, prioritizing potential threats, and relaying information to operators in the field.

An all-female unit monitors the border with Syria on video screens. Credit Israel Defense Force

Why an all-female unit? Because the Israeli military has determined that women have longer attention spans than men. Last August, the unit spotted seven Islamic State fighters, wearing suicide belts and carrying grenades, as they were infiltrating a no-man’s land on their way to Israel. An airstrike was called in. The men never reached the border.

None of this is to say that physical barriers are invariably pointless or evil. Israel’s fence along the Egyptian border all-but ended the flow of illegal African migrants, though most illegal immigrants in Israel arrive legally by plane and simply overstay their visas. The much-maligned wall (most of which is also a fence) that divides Palestinians from Israelis in Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank played a major role in ending the terrorism of the Second Intifada.

Yet the Israeli experience also suggests that the best way to protect a border is to rely on the tools of the 21st century, not the 12th. Walls only occasionally provide the most reliable security. They can be dangerous for providing the illusion of security. And there are vastly more effective means than concrete to defend even the most dangerous borders. Why can’t Democrats and Republicans simply agree to build additional smart fencing in places where it’s missing and call it, for political effect, an “Israeli-style barrier”?

The good news for the U.S. is that we don’t face Hezbollah, Hamas or ISIS across our border, only people who overwhelmingly want to relieve their own plight and contribute their labor for everyone’s betterment. If we really wanted to secure the border, our first priority should be to make it easier for them to arrive through the front door rather than sneak in through the back.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on FacebookTwitter (@NYTopinion) andInstagram.

Bret L. Stephens has been an Opinion columnist with The Times since April 2017. He won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary at The Wall Street Journal in 2013 and was previously editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post.

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Israeli military demolishes home of Palestinian charged with killing soldier

December 15, 2018

Military says clashes broke out during operation to destroy family home of Islam Yousef Abu Hamid, who allegedly killed Ronen Lubarsky; PA said to offer to pay for reconstruction

IDF demolishes the home of a Palestinian accused of killing an Israeli soldier, Ramallah, December 15, 2018 (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

IDF demolishes the home of a Palestinian accused of killing an Israeli soldier, Ramallah, December 15, 2018 (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

The IDF announced Saturday it had demolished the family home of a Palestinian man charged with killing Israeli soldier Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky earlier this year.

The IDF detonated explosives in the four-story building inhabited by the family of Islam Yousef Abu Hamid in the al-Am’ari refugee camp close to Ramallah.

In a statement, the IDF said clashes broke out when Israeli forces entered the camp to carry out the order, with dozens of Palestinians throwing rocks at the troops and troops responding with crowd dispersal methods. No injuries were reported.

Mahmoud Al-Aloul, deputy chairman of the Fatah party, expressed support for Hamid’s family and said the Palestinian Authority would pay for the home to be rebuilt, the Walla news site reported.

The camp is densely populated, and the military reportedly had to cordon off a large area for the demolition to take place.

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Hamid killed Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky, a member of the elite Duvdevan unit, by dropping a marble slab on the top of his head from a neighboring home during an IDF raid in May at the al-Am’ari refugee camp in Ramallah, according to the charge sheet.

Earlier this month the High Court of Justice upheld the IDF’s decision to demolish the family’s home.

Smoke rises from a house belonging to a Palestinian accused of killing an Israeli soldier, Ramallah, December 15, 2018 (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Rejecting a petition from the family against a demolition order issued in September, the court ruled the entire home may be destroyed and not just the 2nd and 4th floors of the building where the assailant lived.

Ronen Lubarsky, an IDF soldier from the Duvdevan unit who died on May 26, 2018 after being critically injured by a slab thrown on his head two days earlier (Courtesy)

The Hamid family asked the court to nullify the IDF’s demolition order because their son had not yet been convicted of killing Lubarsky, while arguing that demolishing the entire building would cause disproportionate harm to the other occupants who were not involved in the attack.

The family also argued that the IDF only moved to demolish the entire building at the urging of the Lubarsky family.

However, Justice Yael Wilner rejected the Palestinian family’s petition, saying that Israeli military courts are not legally required to wait for a conviction before issuing demolition orders.

In the unanimous decision, Wilner acknowledged that razing the entire building would unfairly harm some residents, but said Israel’s security considerations and the need to establish deterrence against future attacks “did not justify reducing the scope of the demolition order.”

Security forces map for demolition the home of Palestinian who killed an IDF soldier, seen here in the al-Am’ari refugee camp in the West Bank, October 2, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Lubarsky’s father praised the court for rejecting the Hamid family’s petition, and called for his son’s killer to be sentenced to death.

“The decision is a victory for sanity,” he told the Kan public broadcaster on Sunday following the ruling. “We expect only more thing — imposing the death penalty on the terrorist who murdered Ronen.”

In September, Hamid’s family was informed that the IDF intended to destroy all four stories of the building, and not just two floors as had previously been stated.

The IDF noted that the home was erected on a plot where a building was previously demolished in the 1990s, following an attack by Hamid’s brother. At the time, the family was ordered not to rebuild the structure.

A military court filed an indictment in May against Hamid, 32, charging him with murder.

According to court papers, on the night of the clash, Hamid woke up to the sounds of dogs barking and soldiers shouting as they arrested two of his neighbors in an adjacent house.

Hamid climbed to the roof of a neighboring home where he chose the heavier of two marble slabs placed there. He lifted the 40-pound slab onto the railing of the roof and hurled it down onto Lubarsky, who was standing below.

The suspect then immediately climbed back onto the roof of his home and crawled inside as soldiers tended to their injured comrade.

Israeli troops on June 6, 2018, arrest a Palestinian man suspected of killing an IDF soldier by dropping a stone slab on his head in the al-Am’ari refugee camp in Ramallah the month before. (Israel Defense Forces)

Lubarsky, from the central city of Rehovot, was critically injured and died of his wounds two days later.

Hamid was also charged with obstruction of justice for efforts to tamper with the crime scene hours after the incident.

According to the indictment, Hamid went back to the adjacent rooftop and used cleaning materials to wipe his fingerprints off of the second marble slab that he had grasped earlier, but decided against using.

Vladimir Lubarsky (R) and Arik Lubarsky speak to reporters outside the Ofer military court in the West Bank on August 15, 2018. (Choosing Life Forum)

The IDF said that the soldiers had been on a mission to arrest members of a terror cell who had been carrying out shooting attacks. The raid was based on intelligence information obtained in coordination with the Shin Bet security agency.

A few days after Lubarsky was killed, the military carried out a raid in al-Am’ari, in an apparent effort to locate the soldier’s killer. Clashes broke out between residents and the Israeli troops, with 13 Palestinians lightly or moderately injured, the Palestinian Health Ministry said at the time. Hamid was arrested in the raid.

According to the Shin Bet, Hamid had been incarcerated in Israeli prison from 2004 to 2009 for terrorist activities committed on behalf of the Hamas terrorist group.

In a statement, the security service also said Hamid’s brothers were also members of Hamas.

Israel says the practice of demolishing terrorists’ homes is an effective means of discouraging future attacks, though it has been criticized by human rights groups as a form of collective punishment and by some analysts as an ineffective deterrent measure.


Former Hamas chief calls for guerrilla warfare to ‘liberate West Bank’ and ‘all Palestine’

December 15, 2018

Khaled Mashaal says ‘resistance’ is ‘pinnacle of life’ and defines Palestinians: ‘I resist, therefore I am’

Khaled Mashaal speaks in Doha, Qatar, August 28, 2014. (AP/Osama Faisal)

Khaled Mashaal speaks in Doha, Qatar, August 28, 2014. (AP/Osama Faisal)

The former leader of the Hamas terror group has called on West Bank Palestinians to prepare for “guerrilla warfare” in the West Bank and ongoing “resistance” to force Israel to retreat from the territory.

Khaled Mashaal said this would be a step on the way to its retreat from “all of Palestine.”

Speaking on the Al-Jazeera TV network on December 2, Mashaal, in a play on René Descartes’ famous philosophical proposition, said: “The Palestinians say ‘I resist, therefore I am.’”

In comments translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Mashaal said that according to the Quran, “Jihad, resistance, and self-defense [are] the essence of life.

“The abandonment of Jihad leads to humiliation and death. Hence, resistance is the pinnacle of life. A person who lives under occupation, and who does not resist, is in fact dead.”

Mashaal, who headed Hamas’s political bureau between 1996 and 2017, claimed there was no alternative way to “liberate” the Palestinian nation.

“When did Israel withdraw from southern Lebanon? It wasn’t a result of negotiations — not in Madrid and not in Washington. It retreated as a result of resistance. When did it retreat from Gaza? After the (Second) Intifada in 2000 and the heroic resistance. Today we are being called and preparing to force Israel to retreat from Jerusalem and from the West Bank. Allah willing, this is on the way to its retreat from all of Palestine,” he said.

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Former Hamas Leader Khaled Mashal Calls for West Bank “Guerrilla Warfare,” States: “I Resist, Therefore I Am”

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He called on the West Bank’s Fatah to join Hamas in popular resistance against Israel, saying it should take an examplefrom the people of the Gaza Strip.

“The West Bank spans over 5,600 square kilometers, and has mountains and valleys. I’m from there, I know the landscape. It has everything necessary for guerilla warfare. Why are we not preparing for that?”

A Fatah spokesman on Thursday called on Palestinians to ignore calls for a new armed uprising against Israel in the West Bank, urging them to instead step up peaceful protests against the Jewish state’s military rule.

“We need to be smart…and not listen to the talk of the demagogues about the necessity of going to an armed confrontation,” Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasma told Palestine TV, the official Palestinian Authority television channel, Thursday night. “My words are candid. We must escalate popular resistance in the Palestinian lands.”

Hamas has for years called on Palestinians to stir up a confrontation with Israel in the West Bank.

On Friday the Palestinian Authority police cracked down on a Hamas protest in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, beating demonstrators with batons and throwing stun grenades.

Some 50 Hamas activists confronted Palestinian forces after Muslim prayers on Friday, as the terror group marked the 31st anniversary of its establishment.

Palestinian security forces beat a Hamas supporter as they try to disperse a rally marking the 31st anniversary of the founding of the terror group in Hebron on December 14, 2018. (Hazem Bader/AFP)

Hamas condemned the PA for suppressing the demonstrations. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement on the Hamas website that the “barbaric behavior” was proof the PA “denigrated the blood of the martyrs.”

The Palestinian Authority, led by president Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, cooperates closely with Israeli security, while Hamas has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008.

Hamas cells continue operate in the West Bank despite PA and Israeli efforts to arrest them. The protests come amid a surge of terror attacks in the West Bank, some of them claimed by Hamas.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed Thursday and two other Israelis injured when a man opened fire at a bus stop at a settlement in the West Bank, before fleeing.

Hamas has claimed two other recent shooting attacks in the West Bank but has so far not taken responsibility for Thursday’s attack, near the settlement of Givat Assaf.

The Israeli military says it believes a Hamas cell conducted a drive-by shooting attack near the settlement of Ofra Sunday, in which seven people were wounded. Ove victim’s baby was delivered prematurely in an emergency operation, but died on Wednesday afternoon.

Agencies and Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.


Israel encircles Ramallah after West Bank attack

December 13, 2018

Israeli forces encircled Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Thursday and sent in reinforcements after a gunman shot dead two Israelis at a bus stop in the area, the army said.

The military was sending “a few more infantry battalions” to conduct operations in the West Bank. (File/AFP)

“Entrances and exits to the city are all closed. We are conducting searches,” army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told journalists.

He said the military was sending “a few more infantry battalions” to conduct operations in the West Bank.



A poster published by Hamas claiming the December 9, 2108, Ofra terror attack and praising the 'martyr' Salih Barghouti, posted on Hamas's official Twitter account, December 12, 2108. (Twitter)

A poster published by Hamas claiming the December 9, 2108, Ofra terror attack and praising the ‘martyr’ Salih Barghouti, posted on Hamas’s official Twitter account, December 12, 2108. (Twitter)

Netanyahu vows to capture ‘monstrous’ gunmen who opened fire at West Bank bus stop, critically injuring pregnant woman and 6 others

December 10, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows that the Palestinian terrorists who opened fire at a bus stop outside a West Bank settlement last night will be caught and brought to justice.

In a Knesset speech, Netanyahu calls the drive-by shooting attack that left an Israeli woman and and her unborn baby fighting for their lives a “monstrous” attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on December 9, 2018. (Oded Balilty / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem on December 9, 2018. (Oded Balilty / POOL / AFP)

“Our security forces, the Shin Bet security service and the IDF, are pursuing these murderers,” he says according to a statement. “They will capture them, bring them to justice and settle our score.”

He also slams the Palestinian Authority, saying it’s “too much to expect” the Ramallah government to condemn the attack, saying “they only contribute to incitement here.”


Hamas praises ‘heroic’ West Bank shooting attack

December 10, 2018

Shooting critically injures pregnant Israeli woman and wounds 6 others

Hamas says attack affirms ‘legitimacy’ of Palestinian resistance

Hamas spokesman Abdelatif al-Qanou speaking to an Arabic television station on October 7, 2018. (Screenshot: Youtube)

Hamas spokesman Abdelatif al-Qanou speaking to an Arabic television station on October 7, 2018. (Screenshot: Youtube)

A Hamas spokesman praised the terrorist attack adjacent to the Ofra settlement in the central West Bank on Sunday in which a pregnant 21-year-old Israeli woman and six others were wounded, describing it as “heroic.”

Shots were fired from a passing car at a crowd of people who were waiting at a bus stop near the settlement. The pregnant woman was in a critical condition, and was “fighting for her life” in the hospital late Sunday. Doctors delivered her baby, which was in a stable condition.

“The heroic Ofra operation is an affirmation of our people’s choice and legitimacy in resisting the Zionist occupation and its settlers,” Abdelatif al-Qanou, a Hamas spokesman, posted on his Facebook page. “It proves that any attempt to condemn the Palestinian resistance will fail in the face of the desire and valiance of our Palestinian people.”

He stopped short of claiming credit for the attack.

While Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, its activities in the West Bank have largely been curtailed by near constant activity by the IDF and Shin Bet security service and also by the Palestinian Authority security forces.

The Hamas spokesman added the shooting “is a message that our people will continue its struggle and uprising until it reclaims all of its stolen rights.”

Hamas officials have frequently encouraged and praised shooting, stabbing and ramming attacks in the West Bank and Israel.

Both the US and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist group.

The scene of a terrorist attack outside the West Bank settlement of Ofra, on December 9, 2018. (Magen David Adom)

Last Thursday, a US-sponsored United Nations General Assembly draft resolution condemning the Gaza-based terror group for firing rockets into Israel failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed to pass, with a final tally of 87 in favor, 57 opposed and 33 abstentions. Hamas celebrated the draft resolution’s failure including one of its officials who called it a “slap” against the US administration.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the tally “a very important achievement for the US and Israel,” highlighting that a majority of countries voted in favor of the draft resolution.

In security camera video of the shooting on Sunday, posted to social media, a white car is seen slowing down near the bus stop, after which bullets can be seen striking the crowd who scramble for cover. The car, which comes to a stop for a few moments while the shooting apparently continues, then speeds off down the road as IDF soldiers are seen running to the bus stop.

Paramedics who were in the MDA station nearby heard the shooting and immediately drove to the scene in an ambulance and began treating the victims, the MDA spokesperson said.

Doctors successfully delivered the baby being carried by the  21-year-old Israeli woman shortly after she was shot and critically hurt in the terrorist attack.

The baby, who was delivered in the 30th week of the pregnancy, was immediately transferred to the ward for premature babies at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, the hospital said, and was said to be in “stable” condition.

A man, 21, with moderate wounds, was taken to the same hospital as were two others who had light injuries. Army Radio said the woman’s husband was among those lightly injured.

Bus stops are popular hitchhiking points often used by IDF soldiers looking for rides.

The northern entrance to al-Bireh, a town adjacent to Ramallah, was closed in both directions, the official Palestinian Authority news site Wafa reported as the IDF tried to locate the gunmen.


US slams ‘absolutely disgusting’ West Bank terror attack

Erdoğan condemns Israel’s attacks on Gaza in call to Abbas — Expressed “Turkey’s unwavering support for the Palestinian people and cause.”

November 16, 2018

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday called Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The phone call, according to WAFA, focused on the “latest Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip.”

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FILE photo

The news agency said President Erdoğan condemned — in the strongest possible terms — the recent Israeli aggression.

He also voiced Turkey’s readiness to support the people of Gaza and treat injured Palestinians at Turkish hospitals.

Abbas, for his part, thanked Erdoğan for what he described as “Turkey’s unwavering support for the Palestinian people and cause.”

Beginning Monday evening and carrying on through Tuesday, Israeli artillery pounded at least 160 targets the Gaza Strip, killing at least seven Palestinians, injuring 26 others and decimating dozens of homes. The violence was the worst between Israel and Gaza since a 2014 war.

The bout subsided after a cease-fire was struck late Tuesday. The truce, brokered by Egypt, prompted Israel’s hawkish Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to announce his resignation on Wednesday.


Israel, Hamas battle after Qatar sent $15 million in cash to Hamas in Gaza

November 12, 2018

Palestinian media reports at least 7 killed, more injured, during Israeli operation in Khan Younis; IDF confirms ‘exchange of fire broke out’, rockets fired at south

Illustrative. An explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, on October 27, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Illustrative. An explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, on October 27, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Israeli special forces conducted a raid in the Gaza city of Khan Younis on Sunday night, apparently killing several suspected Hamas terrorists, including a senior commander in its military wing, and bringing the region back to the brink of war.

The IDF later confirmed that a special forces officer was killed and another injured in the raid. The military censor prevented news of the IDF officer’s death and the second officer’s injuries from being published until their families could be notified. The names of the soldiers were not immediately released.

The fighting set off a massive round of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and at least a dozen rockets or mortar shells were fired at southern Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced late Sunday he would return to Israel immediately and cut a trip to Paris short.

The flareup punctured a brief calm along the restive border, coming two days after Israel allowed Qatar to send $15 million in cash to Hamas in Gaza — one of the first moves in a reported ceasefire agreement between Israel and the terrorist group.

According to Hamas’s military wing, a Qassam Brigades commander, Nour Baraka, was killed along with six other Hamas members by Israeli special forces who drove a “civilian vehicle” three kilometers into Gaza from the border.

Hamas terrorist Nour Baraka (Hadashot TV Screenshot)

Baraka was reportedly closely involved in Hamas’s tunnel program and also served as the commander of a Khan Younis regional battalion.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Tal Russo, a former commander of the IDF Southern Command, indicated that the operation was likely an intelligence-gathering mission gone wrong, rather than an assassination.

“Activities that most civilians aren’t aware of happen all the time, every night and in every region. This action — an operation that was apparently exposed — wasn’t an assassination attempt. We have other ways of assassinating people and we know how to do it much more elegantly,” Russo told Channel 10 news.

The retired general, who until recently was responsible for the IDF’s missions abroad, also told Army Radio that Baraka was likely killed in a rescue effort to extract the special forces soldiers.

Palestinian media outlets reported the Israeli troops had initially tried to capture — not kill — Baraka during the raid, but that the Hamas commander was shot dead after the operation was exposed. This could not be immediately confirmed by the IDF.

Members of the Palestinian security forces gather at a hospital morgue where the bodies of five of the six men killed during an Israeli operation on Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip were transported on November 11, 2018. (Said KHATIB / AFP)

The Qassam Brigades said it engaged the Israeli commandos, setting off an intense firefight with Israeli troops, including reported drone strikes throughout the southern Gaza Strip.

The special forces squad was forced to retreat to the Israeli side of the fence under the cover of the aerial bombardment, Hamas’s military wing said in a statement.

A Hamas spokesperson praised the “brave resistance that repulsed the Israeli aggression.”

The Israeli military confirmed that “an exchange of fire broke out during security activities by the IDF in the Gaza Strip region,” but would not elaborate further. The military initially refused to comment on Israeli casualties and would only confirm that no Israeli soldiers had been kidnapped, in an effort to tamp down on rumors.

Jonathan Conricus@LTCJonathan

Quick recap so far: IDF operated in the Gaza Strip, exchange of gunfire ensued. All IDF soldiers back in Israel. Several alarms have sounded in Southern Israel. More to follow.

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Following the clashes, at least 10 projectiles were fired at southern Israel as of 23:58 p.m. Sunday, two of which were shot down by the Iron Dome air defense system, the army said. After midnight warning sirens continued to wail and several more projectiles were fired into Israel, with no immediate reports of casualties.

Light damage was caused to a number of greenhouses in the Eshkol region, locals said.

Residents of southern Israel were instructed to remain close to their bomb shelters in the event of reprisals Sunday night.

There were no reports of rockets or mortar shells landing inside Israeli communities near the Gaza border. The projectiles not intercepted by the Iron Dome apparently landed in open fields.

The flight paths into and out of Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport were altered in light of the Gaza clashes, a spokesperson for the Aviation Authority said.

Netanyahu was informed of the flareup while in Paris on an official state visit.

“In light of the security-related incidents in the South, the prime minister has decided to shorten his visit to Paris and to return to Israel tonight,” his office said in a statement.

Culture Minister Miri Regev was appointed acting prime minister in Netanyahu’s absence; however, she cannot call a meeting of the powerful security cabinet as she is not a member of it.

A Palestinian hurls stones at Israeli troops during a riot on a beach near the maritime border with Israel, in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 29, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has the authority to hold a special session of the security cabinet.

On Sunday evening, he met with top defense officials in the army’s Tel Aviv headquarters, including IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot and the head of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman.

According to the Gaza Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry, in addition to Baraka, six other Hamas members, all in their 20s, were killed in clashes with the IDF.

Seven other Palestinians were reportedly injured in the clashes.

Israelis in the Eshkol region, across from Khan Younis, reported hearing multiple explosions as fighting broke out at around 9:30 p.m.

Roads immediately surrounding the Gaza Strip were closed in light of military activities, the police said.

Hamas’s interior ministry told Palestinian media that the terror group’s military wing and police force were put on high alert throughout Gaza, following the clashes.

The flareup came as the sides were said to be nearing a deal for a ceasefire along the restive border.

On Friday, Israel allowed in $15 million of Qatari cash for Hamas to pay workers amid intensive Egyptian led efforts to reach a calm between the sides.

Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was doing its utmost to prevent “unnecessary wars” in the Gaza Strip, but maintained that diplomacy was futile with the Hamas leaders of the Palestinian enclave.

At a press conference in Paris, where the prime minister had attended the 100th anniversary commemorations of the end of World War I along with other world leaders, Netanyahu said no final diplomatic deal was possible with Hamas — the ruler of the beleaguered enclave.

“There is no diplomatic solution for Gaza, just as there is no diplomatic solution for ISIS,” said Netanyahu.

A Palestinian woman counts her money after receiving her salary in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip November 9, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)

“I am doing everything I can to avoid an unnecessary war,” said the prime minister, pointing to the deaths of millions during the First World War as an example of senseless bloody warfare. “I am not afraid of war if it’s necessary, but I want to avoid it if it’s not necessary.”

Weekly Gaza border protests, dubbed the “Great March of Return,” have been going on since March 30 and have mostly involved the burning of tires and rock-throwing along the security fence, but have also seen shooting attacks, bombings and attempted border breaches as well as the launching of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel. Southern Israel has also seen sporadic, but aggressive rocket bombardments from the Gaza Strip.

Egypt, alongside United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov, has recently played a key role in attempts to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and the armed groups in the Strip.

Egyptian mediators have been working intensively to maintain calm, and also hope to bring about national reconciliation between the Hamas terror group, which seized Gaza by force in 2007, and the West Bank-based administration of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

TOI staff and Agencies contributed to this report.


Israeli security forces raid Palestinian Authority offices outside Jerusalem, sparking clashes

November 4, 2018

Israeli security forces attempt to confiscate computer equipment, according to official PA news site

A picture taken from the Mount of Olives shows the Old City of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock shrine in the center, on December 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

A picture taken from the Mount of Olives shows the Old City of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock shrine in the center, on December 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

Israeli security forces raided the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem Governorate headquarters and Jerusalem Affairs Ministry on Sunday, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

Spokespersons for the IDF and Israel Police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Pictures shared on Twitter showed Israeli security forces at the entrance to the PA Jerusalem Governorate headquarters and Jerusalem Affairs Ministry, which share a building in al-Ram, a town on the northern outskirts of Jerusalem.

“Occupation forces…raided [the building] in a barbaric manner in an attempt to confiscate its contents,” the Wafa report said.

Other pictures posted on Twitter showed PA Jerusalem Affairs Minister Adnan Husseini standing next to desktop computers which appeared to be missing some parts.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

عاجل – قناة فلسطين اليوم@paltoday_tv

|| قوات الاحتلال تقتحم مقرّ محافظة القدس في ضاحية البرد ببلدة الرام شمال القدس

Wafa also reported that Israeli security forces and PA employees engaged in a fistfight after the troops “attempted to confiscate the building’s contents.”

At least five PA employees were injured and taken to a hospital for treatment, the official PA news site report said.

A PA government spokesman slammed the Israeli forces for raiding the building.

“The raid on the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry and Jerusalem Governorate and the savage assault of the employees in it is a dangerous escalation and barefaced violation of all agreements and international laws,” PA government spokesman Yousif Mahmoud said in a statement published on Wafa. “The occupation government bears full responsibility for the continued assaults on Jerusalem and its citizens, Islamic and Christian holy sites and institutions.”

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Wafa News Agency@WAFA_PS

: آثار الدمار الذي خلفه الاحتلال عقب اقتحامه مقر محافظة القدس.
(تصوير: شروق زيد/وفا)

In late October, Israeli security forces arrested PA Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith and Jerusalem director of the PA General Intelligence Services Jihad Faqih on suspicion they helped abduct a Palestinian-American resident of Jerusalem, their lawyers told Reuters at the time. Both Ghaith and Faqih deny the charges, according to their lawyers.

They were released several days after being arrested.

The Palestinian-American resident of Jerusalem was being sought by the PA over his involvement in the sale of a home in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City to Jews, Hadashot TV news reported in October.

PA courts have previously sentenced Palestinians to death for selling land to Jews. Since 2005, however, the PA has not carried out any executions, according to B’Tselem.

The PA government formed a committee to investigate the sale of the home in the Old City, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah tweeted on October 9.

Last Thursday, Israeli security forces also briefly detained Ghaith after they forcibly broke up an event he attended in East Jerusalem, which Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said was organized by the PA.

Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally, almost entirely does not allow the PA to operate within Jerusalem.