Posts Tagged ‘Shin Bet’

Iran is funding Hamas’s violent campaign at Gaza border, Shin Bet says

May 14, 2018

Captured terror operatives tell Israeli security service they keep away from border, encourage youths to riot and sabotage fence as cover for attacks by terror group

A Palestinian boy protester runs carrying a tire towards a fire during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip east of Gaza City on May 4, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

A Palestinian boy protester runs carrying a tire towards a fire during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip east of Gaza City on May 4, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Iran is funding Hamas’s campaign to promote violence and attacks against Israel under the cover of mass demonstrations at the border, the Shin Bet security service said on Monday.

Hamas has warned its members to stay away from the security fence during Gaza’s mass protests, lest they get shot, while actively encouraging Palestinian civilians — particularly children and teens — to approach the border, the Shin Bet added, citing findings from a number of interrogations.

“There is a prohibition for Hamas operatives to approach the border, from a fear that they will be killed or captured by IDF troops, unless the security fence falls and then they must enter, armed, into Israel under the cover of the masses and carry out terror attacks,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

Over the course of the past seven weeks of violent demonstrations along the Gaza border, in an event known collectively as the “March of Return,” Israeli forces have arrested a number of Palestinians, some of them Hamas members, who crossed the security fence into Israeli territory.

Ahead of mass riots expected on Monday, the Shin Bet released the findings of its interrogations of those suspects, which the security service said showed the methods used by Hamas to destabilize the border area, breach the fence and try to carry out terror attacks inside Israeli territory.

“From the information we have, it appears Hamas is encouraging and sending protesters to the border fence in order to carry out violent acts and damage security infrastructure. In addition, it was found that Iran is providing funding to Hamas in order for it to carry out these violent activities along the Gaza Strip’s border fence,” the Shin Bet said.

Palestinian demonstrators burn tires near the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, on May 14, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

The security service did not provide specific evidence of Iranian involvement. However, Hamas has maintained relations with the Islamic Republic and reportedly drawn significant funding from Tehran.

On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces expects upwards of 100,000 Palestinians to take part in violent protests along the Gaza border. These riots were expected on Tuesday, the Palestinian Nakba Day, which commemorates Palestinians’ displacement from their homes following the creation of the State of Israel. But on Sunday the military assessed that Hamas would look to capitalize on the media attention around the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and move its plans up a day.

The IDF is particularly concerned that the demonstrations will see mass border breaches, in which Palestinians, including Hamas members, would stream across the border and wreak havoc in nearby Israeli communities — attacking residents, setting fires and destroying property.

“The IDF and the Shin Bet security service will continue with determination to prevent any infiltration attempts into the State of Israel in order to defend Israel’s citizens and sovereignty,” the Shin Bet said on Monday.

Earlier on Monday, the IDF dropped thousands of leaflets into the Gaza Strip, telling residents not to be Hamas’s “puppets” and to keep away from the border.

The testimonies

Yahya Ijlah, a 19-year-old Hamas member who entered Israel on April 29, told Shin Bet interrogators that he had been sent to the border in order to steal a security camera along the fence.

Captured Hamas operative Yahya Ijlah (Shin Bet)

According to the Shin Bet, Ijlah said Hamas “is working to make its activities look like a popular uprising in the media, and not a violent operation by its members.”

The security service said that a number of suspects told interrogators that Hamas was specifically encouraging teenagers and children to approach and even breach the fence.

“The testimony showed a cynical use of children and innocent civilians by Hamas, while endangering their lives, in order to vandalize and steal equipment,” the Shin Bet said.

Salim Abu-Daher, 21, who was arrested after breaching the fence on April 28, told the Shin Bet that Hamas operatives wear normal street clothes and blend themselves into the masses of civilian protesters, while armed with “bottles of butane, knives and wire cutters,” the Shin Bet said.

Captured Hamas operative Salim Abu-Daher (Shin Bet)

The Shin Bet said that Ijlah revealed that during protests Hamas members are meant to act as instigators but not take action themselves.

“The role of Hamas members is to provide Gaza Strip residents with tires and help set them on fire. This is in order to create a thick smokescreen and to rile the Gaza residents, in order to convince them to infiltrate into Israeli territory,” the service said.

Hamas operatives also “help throw firebombs and prepare incendiary kites,” according to the Shin Bet.

These so-called “attack kites” or “terror kites” have proven a challenge to Israeli forces and have destroyed hundreds of dunams of farmland.


Israel arrests Hamas agents for smuggling cash into the West Bank for terror activity, support suicide attacks

May 3, 2018

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency on Thursday announced the arrest of two Hamas activists in the West Bank on suspicion of receiving thousands of Euros of funding for the terrorist organization.

 MAY 3, 2018 12:43

 950 Hezbollah operatives, 300 Hamas members in Germany – intelligence report

 Three Hamas men from Jerusalem indicted for planning shooting attack

Bir Zeit

Palestinian students supporting Hamas stand next to mock Hamas rockets during a rally celebrating their winning of the student council election at Birzeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 23, 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency on Thursday announced the arrest of two Hamas activists in the West Bank on suspicion of receiving thousands of Euros of funding for the terrorist organization.

According to a statement by the security agency, 24-year-old Hamas operative Omar Kiswani from the West Bank village of Beit Iksa was arrested in a joint undercover operation by the Shin Bet, the Israel Police and the IDF on March 7, and brought in for questioning by security authorities.

Kiswani’s arrest was caught on camera and widely shared on social networks. The video showed men in civilian clothes carrying pistols wrestling Kiswani to the ground, one kicking him as he was on the ground. The men are also seen pointing their pistols toward onlookers and shots are heard towards the end of the clip.

The Shin Bet investigation showed that Kiswani made contact with Hamas activist Yassin Rabi’a, who had been expelled to the Gaza Strip as part of the Schalit deal, as well as with Hamas operatives in Turkey in order to ask for funds to promote Hamas activity at Birzeit University.

Yassin transferred a total sum of €150,000, which had been hidden in a number of locations throughout the West Bank, to Kiswani, who collected the money along with his friend and fellow Hamas activist, 20-year-old Yahya Alawi.

The two are suspected of using the funds to promote Hamas activity. The investigation by the Shin Bet security agency found a “deep involvement of Hamas operatives in Turkey and the Gaza Strip” who were working on attempts to promote Hamas activity in the West Bank.

“This is another expression of the efforts of the Hamas headquarters in Turkey and the Gaza Strip to accelerate activity in the West Bank. They launder funds and hide them in many locations throughout the West Bank,” read the statement, adding that the exposure and arrest of the two men who studied at Birzeit University “once again points to the great importance that the Hamas headquarters attaches to student activity. Actions within the university’s walls serve as a main tool for recruiting and training Hamas operatives in the West Bank.”

In 2017, a Hamas cell, led by members located in the Gaza Strip, recruited students at Birzeit university to carry out suicide attacks.

Following Kiswani’s arrest, Birzeit Univesity released a statement saying that the arrest was a violation of international humanitarian law.

“This is not the first violent intrusion by Israeli army forces, who systematically invade the university’s campus – even though it is specifically protected under international humanitarian law,” it said.

“The kidnappers, carrying firearms in their backpacks, entered the campus during working hours and attacked the student in front of the Student Council Building, located at the center of the campus. The operatives forced and pinned the student to the ground while firing their weapons, endangering lives.”


Employee at French Consulate in Jerusalem Admits to Smuggling Weapons From Gaza to West Bank

March 19, 2018


Case was reported on extensively in French press but a gag order was imposed on coverage of it in Israel – even though relevant agencies had already worked on press releases

A 24-year-old employee at the French Consulate in Jerusalem admitted that he smuggled dozens of weapons from the Gaza Strip into the West Bank through diplomatic vehicles, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported on Sunday. Israeli security sources have confirmed the existence of the case.

The employee was a driver and carried an official passport. He was detained for questioning by Israeli security authorities on February 19. A security guard at the embassy was also arrested. The two will stand trial on Monday, most likely in a Be’er Sheva court, for smuggling weapons from Gaza to the West Bank.

 French Consulate in Jerusalem

The case was reported on extensively on Sunday in the French press but a gag order was imposed on coverage of it in Israel, even though the relevant agencies in Israel, including the Shin Bet security service and the Foreign Ministry, had already worked on a press release on matter.

This is not the first time that a security-related case has been banned from publication while it was reported on extensively abroad.

One high-profile example was the case of a man identified as Prisoner X on an Australian website, which was only reported later in Israel following the lifting of the gag order.

The French Embassy issued a statement saying: “The authorities in France are taking the incident in which one if the workers at the consulate general of France in Jerusalem is a suspect with very great seriousness. The authorities in France are cooperating with Israeli authorities.”

Israeli diplomatic officials called the matter “a very difficult event, which we take very seriously.” They added that relations with France are excellent and this will not have an adverse effect, thanking French authorities for their cooperation.

The affair takes place days before French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is slated to arrive in Israel, amid the backdrop of a potential visit from French President Emmanuel Macron later this fall. This affair may overshadow the visit.

Israel arrests Palestinians ‘planning attack on defence minister’

February 18, 2018


© POOL/AFP/File | Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman is seen during a press conference in Tel Aviv on April 21, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel arrested six Palestinians suspected of planning attacks targeting Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman and other Israelis in the occupied West Bank, security agency Shin Bet said Sunday.Shin Bet said the six were affiliated with the Islamic Jihad militant group and were active in the Bethlehem area where they sought to carry out shootings against Israeli civilians and security forces.

In addition, some of the group had been planning to target Lieberman’s vehicle when he travelled to his home in a West Bank settlement.

According to a Shin Bet statement, the suspects had been “trying to obtain explosives to make a bomb, and even reached out to terror elements in (Gaza) for funding.”

“Upon failing to acquire the materials, they decided to create a fake device to receive recognition for their action and enable further attacks,” the statement read.

The six will be charged in an Israeli military court later Sunday.

In 2014, Shin Bet said it had apprehended a Hamas group planning to assassinate then-foreign minister Lieberman by firing a rocket-propelled grenade at his convoy.

Israel Still Believes Turkey Helped Hamas Gain in Military Strength — “Army of Palestine” Made To Fight Israel

February 15, 2018
 FEBRUARY 15, 2018 10:11


Cemil Tekeli says he was tortured by Israel during month-long detention

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh recieves royal welcome

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh recieves royal welcome in Turkey. (photo credit: Courtesy )

Turkey has rejected Israel’s accusations that it helped Hamas gain in military strength, calling them “incompatible with reality,” after a Turkish citizen was arrested and deported.

“We reject the allegations, apparently out of reality and seriousness, which were introduced on the basis of some statements obtained from our detained citizen under ambiguous circumstances,” Turkey’s Anadolu Agency quoted the Turkish Foreign Ministry as saying.

“It is out of the question for Turkey to permit an activity on its soil that can jeopardize the security of another country,” the statement continued.

Cemil Tekeli, a Turkish citizen and law lecturer, was arrested by the Shin Bet on January 15, 2018, just before he was due to board a plane at Ben-Gurion airport on suspicion of laundering money to Hamas using Turkish businesses. He was deported back to Turkey on February 11.

In an interview with Anadolu, Tekeli accused Israel of torturing and drugging him during his month-long detention.

“I used to hear people screaming, animal sounds. It was as if they had been tortured,” Tekeli said.

“Almost 16-17 people came every day and asked me the same questions every time. My eyes were sealed [blindfolded] and they were continuously taking me from one place to another,” he was quoted as saying, adding that, “you cannot even stand with your back against the wall because of bad plastering. Your hands and feet are cuffed.”

“In the last room I was sent, I was all naked and they kept me waiting in handcuffs in freezing cold… Later they said they would take me to a room that they called VIP. At first, I thought it would be a better room. But that VIP room turned out to be like a fridge. The prisoners there used to call it ‘sellace’, which means fridge.”

“One day, I was really exhausted after they had interrogated me for hours… Then I saw them giving me an injection. I tried to ask what they were doing and then I realized that there were two pills in my mouth. I could not focus on anything after that.”

According to the Shin Bet, the investigation regarding Tekeli found that he helped Hamas operatives who had come to Turkey establish themselves both personally and economically. Most of them were released during the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner-exchange deal; all of them were involved in terror attacks which claimed the lives of dozens of Israeli citizens.

The investigation also found that Turkey is contributing to Hamas’ military buildup, among other things through SADAT, a company that was set up to help finance and build the “Army of Palestine” to fight Israel. SADAT also helped senior Hamas officials visit a weapons exhibit in Turkey where they expressed interest in unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) capabilities.

The Shin Bet implied that Turkey gave tacit approval for Hamas’s actions, saying that government officials there “turned a blind eye” to the fact that the terrorist group was the source of the money given to Tekeli and an Arab-Israeli who was also arrested in the case.

“The findings of the investigation illustrate the extensive military and economic activity of Hamas in Turkey, which takes place uninterrupted as Turkish government officials turn a blind eye, and sometimes even encourage with the assistance of Turkish citizens, some of whom are close to the administration,” read the Shin Bet statement.

“This activity relies, inter alia, on business platforms used by Hamas to launder funds to be transferred to the West Bank and to recruit Israelis for its activities,” the statement added.



Former Shin Bet Head: Fear of Terrorism Threatens Israel with ‘1984’ Scenario

January 26, 2018


 JANUARY 26, 2018 11:04

‘A democracy eats itself up in small bites,’ warns expert Brian Michael Jenkins.

Former Shin Bet head: Fear of terror threatens Israel with ‘1984’ scenario

A BOY WATCHES Hamas members gather in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis earlier this month ahead of commemorations marking the 30th anniversary of the group’s founding.. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

Israel risks turning into a “1984” society if it remains in fear of Palestinian attacks, warned a former head of the Shin Bet security service.

“The major threat to democracy is fear,” Adm. (res.) Ami Ayalon told The Jerusalem Post.

“Terrorists want to instill fear, and naturally what the government should do is try to decrease the level of terror. In a normal world this is what should be expected. But what we see is the opposite,” Ayalon stated. “Leaders encourage the fear of citizens in order to get elected. The immediate result is a frightened society that always prefers security over civil rights and this way brings us certainly to 1984,” he said, referencing the 1949 dystopian novel by George Orwell.

Image result for George Orwell, book, 1984, picture

Ayalon, a former director of the Shin Bet and commander of the Israel Navy, made the comments following a special geostrategy conference at the University of Haifa.

“What are we willing to pay to win against the enemy we are fighting?” he asked, while recounting his time as the head of the Shin Bet during the Second Intifada, when parents wouldn’t allow their children to ride on buses or go to shopping malls out of fear of suicide bombings. “If the war on terror is never-ending, what will we give up?”

“We are on the way to losing our identity as a liberal democracy,” Ayalon said, explaining that the “slippery slope” of fear is being

“In our world, the military cannot win. We can win on the battlefield but they will win hearts and minds,” he explained, adding that the world is engulfed in a “hybrid, complex war on terror” that, thanks to the 24/7 news cycle, has become a “reality show” broadcast across the globe in which citizens have become “spectators choosing their leaders.”

Echoing Ayalon, terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins told the Post that “terrorism is all about manipulation of perception. Terror takes our anxieties and gives them a face.”

Admiral (Res.) Ami Ayalon and terror expert Brian Michael Jenkins (ANNA AHRONHEIM)Admiral (Res.) Ami Ayalon and terror expert Brian Michael Jenkins (ANNA AHRONHEIM)

Jenkins stated that while a risk-free society is unrealistic, there have been only 21 terrorist attacks in the US that claimed a total of 133 lives in the 17 years since 9/11, with the Las Vegas shooting attack by Stephen Paddock in October 2017 claiming almost half of the total with 58 fatalities.

“In the United States, security measures are not imposed but demanded. A police state can happen even in a democratic society if it is desperate. It will be the cumulative effect of the requests for increased security measures following attacks.

“A democracy eats itself up in small bites,” Jenkins warned.

Since October 2015 Palestinian youth have stabbed, run over and shot Israeli soldiers and civilians, including tourists, in a wave of violence in the West Bank and Israel. The violence has decreased since its peak in the winter of 2016 when there were almost daily attacks, but according to Ayalon attacks are not expected to disappear.

“As long as Palestinians have no hope and nothing to lose, we will continue having terror attacks,” he said, adding that “the waves of terror will continue if they have no hope in their current reality, especially in regards to the Gaza Strip.”

Nevertheless, Ayalon said, Israel must continue to be strong in the fight against Palestinian terrorism.

“When we understand that a group of people are going to kill our citizens, we must do everything in our power to stop them. It’s the morally right thing to do.”


Israel’s Internal Security Service in Unprecedented Criminal Probe — Shin Bet, Torture and Israel’s Investigative Methods Probed

January 25, 2018

This is the first investigation to be opened since the establishment of a unit dedicated to complaints against Israel’s internal security service

.Right-wing activists reenact Shin Bet torture tactics during a demonstration in Tel Aviv, 2015.
Right-wing activists reenact Shin Bet torture tactics during a demonstration in Tel Aviv, 2015.\ Moti Milrod

The Justice Ministry has opened a criminal investigation against a Shin Bet interrogator suspected of committing prohibited acts in the course of duty.

This is the first investigation to be opened against a Shin Bet operative since the establishment more than a decade and a half ago of a Justice Ministry unit, known by the Hebrew acronym Mivtan, to investigate complaints against the Shin Bet.

Until now, hundreds of complaints about torture during interrogations have not been investigated. The criminal investigation was begun last year, and stems from a field interrogation that took place in 2015.

The opening of a criminal investigation against a Shin Bet agent requires the approval of both Mivtan and the Police Internal Investigations Department, known as Mahash. Two sources say Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit was involved in the decision. It has also been learned that the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, the main organization that deals with this issue, was not the one that filed the complaint against the investigator.

The Justice Ministry confirms that an investigation was opened in the wake of a complaint filed more than a year ago, but would not answer other questions about it, such as who filed the complaint, what actions it refers to, what the possible charges are and why the matter was only turned into an investigation so long after the incident occurred. The ministry would only say, “The matter is still being handled, therefore we cannot comment on it at this time.”

Mivtan is a parallel agency to Mahash, with the purpose of investigating complaints about Shin Bet personnel. Initially it was under the Shin Bet, but in 2013 it was transferred to the Justice Ministry. Until recently, the agency employed just a single investigator. Last year it was supposed to recruit two more. So far, one investigator has been added, and the Justice Ministry notes that he speaks Arabic and has experience with interrogations.

Last year Haaretz reported that from 2009-2016, Mivtan received hundreds of complaints about prohibited torture during interrogations (the majority came from Palestinians, and a few from Jewish Israelis), and since 2001 the Public Committee Against Torture has also filed thousands of complaints. However, until now, not one has led to a criminal investigation or trial.

The Justice Ministry says, “The process of examining the complaints has frequently led to different system-wide lessons being applied, or to disciplinary action being taken against investigators.” In the past year alone, 50 examinations were started.

Attorney Efrat Bergman-Sapir of the Public Committee Against Torture says, “We are pleased to see that the unit – after 16 years – has decided for the first time in its history to open a criminal investigation against Shin Bet personnel about whom complaints of the use of torture have been made. This is an important step that signals to the Shin Bet that it, too, is subject to the law and will no longer enjoy total immunity as it has up to now. We hope that the investigation will be conducted quickly and professionally.”

Trump’s Catch-22 With Iran and the Palestinians Could Blow Up at Israel

January 16, 2018

Like his threats to cut Palestinian funding, the U.S. presidents new demands for the Iran nuclear agreement suffer from inconsistencies that cannot be resolved

TOPSHOT - Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City, near the border with Israel, on January 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED
Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City, near the border with Israel, on January 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABEDMOHAMMED ABED/AFP

Lately, U.S. President Donald Trump is looking like a suicide bomber loaded with explosive devices that he’s releasing in different corners of the world. Fortunately, in most cases we’ve only had threats, finger wagging, shocking tweets and fake bombs, but there is no guarantee that the next one won’t be real.

At least two of these bombs could blow up in Israel’s face. Trump’s threat to significantly cut the funds the administration provides to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and the aid it gives the Palestinian Authority in order to force Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to launch negotiations with Israel is already shaking up refugee camps in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, making the Jordanian kingdom tremble and sending Lebanon into a panic.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, January 10, 2018.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, January 10, 2018. Evan Vucci/AP

In 2016 the administration gave UNRWA $355 million, a third of the agency’s budget. The expected cut is $65 million, around half of the first contribution that had been scheduled for 2018. Add to this the cuts to the PA funding, which amounted to $357 million last year and whose extent for this year isn’t clear. The significance is that the PA, Jordan – home to more than two million Palestinian refugees – and the government of Lebanon, where 175,000 refugees live according to a recent survey (previous UNRWA estimates put the number between 400,000 and 500,000), will have to finance the education, health and welfare services that will be affected by the cuts.

Jordan and Lebanon already bear the heavy burden of aiding Syrian refugees, which is only partially funded by the United Nations and donor states and which isn’t enough to assure them a reasonable quality of life. The Gaza Strip, where most of the Palestinian refugees are concentrated, has been in crisis mode for some time, and the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service believe the economic stress could lead to its total collapse. Rich Arab nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are helping the PA, but it’s doubtful they will step in to fill the gap created by the American cutbacks, especially since they are coordinating their positions with the U.S. administration on the peace process.

It isn’t clear how Trump’s sanctions strategy against the PA will lead to a change in the Palestinian stance. Abbas has made it clear that he no longer considers the United States a fair broker and that economic pressure won’t make him adopt any program Trump presents.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (C) speaks during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 14, 2018.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (C) speaks during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 14, 2018.AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI

There is a paradox here: The IDF is asking – or even demanding – that the Israeli government consider steps to alleviate the dangerous economic pressure on Gaza’s two million residents, and announced that it intends to approve a few thousand more permits for Palestinians to work in Israel. Meanwhile, the U.S. administration is adopting a policy aimed at curbing the threat of a violent outburst that could lead to a war with Israel, which undermines this demand.

The second potentially explosive charge, the sanctions on Iran, is no less worrisome. This week Trump gave the world powers four months to change the nuclear agreement that was signed with the Islamic Republic in 2015. Among other things, the new deal must include a ban on developing ballistic missiles, a halt in support for terror groups and a clause that keeps these restrictions in place forever in order for the United States to remain party to it. The U.S. president made it clear that if there was no progress in talks with his European partners, Russia and China, to fix the agreement, he would withdraw from it even sooner.

Like the threat to the Palestinians, this demand suffers from an inconsistency that cannot be resolved. The requirement to eliminate the nuclear deal’s time frame testifies to the faith the U.S. administration has in the Iranian leaderships desire and ability to uphold its terms, even as the administration itself (not just the EU and the International Atomic Energy Agency) admits that it hasn’t violated it to date. In other words, the deal may not be perfect, but according to Trump himself, the Iranian partner is a rational and responsible entity, to which one could make the demand that it sign to an eternal agreement – otherwise, what’s the point of making such a condition? In fact, what’s the point in signing any agreement with Iran at all?

Under the agreement, Iran is not required to subject its ballistic missile program or its military bases to international inspection. It announced this week that it does not plan to respond to the American demand to begin talks on changing the deal’s terms.

Meanwhile, Congress has so far refused to take up the gauntlet, passed to it by the president in October, to begin legislating new sanctions on Iran; the EU fears the new initiative, which could create a rift between Europe and the United States and freeze the huge ongoing European investment in Iran. Russia termed Trumps decision extremely negative, and China, Iran’s largest oil customer, is concerned about factors liable to complicate the agreement, as the Chinese foreign minister told his Iranian counterpart. It’s therefore doubtful that Trump will find partners among the agreement’s signatories to realize his latest demand.

In the worst-case scenario, Iran revives its nuclear program if the United States imposes new sanctions on Tehran or pulls out of the agreement. Under the more comfortable scenario, Europe, Russia and China continue to do business with Iran and thus push Washington into an isolated corner internationally. In such a case Trump could respond by punishing the states and international corporations that don’t uphold the American sanctions, but that would turn the U.S. into a Western country hostile to the West.

Israel’s great interest is for Iran to abide by the nuclear deal and not risk it being voided by its most important ally. The real concern regarding Iran’s ballistic missiles must lead to the opening of a parallel negotiations channel with Iran, but not by holding the nuclear agreement hostage.

Israel achieved one of the most important strategic achievements in its history when it succeeded in mobilizing a strong international coalition against the Iranian nuclear threat. Trump might now crush that achievement and sabotage any chance of reaching any kind of agreement with Iran on its nuclear program or its ballistic missiles in the future. In the cases of both Iran and the Palestinian Authority, where Trump treads, Israels toes get broken.

Israeli Air Force Attacks ‘Terror Targets’ Along Gaza Border: ‘Hamas Is Responsible’

January 13, 2018

Kerem Shalom border crossing, linking Gaza to Israel, to close Sunday morning, Israeli army informs Palestinians

By Amos Harel and Yaniv Kubovich Jan 13, 2018 11:10 PM

The Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip

The Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Israel army planes have attacked what military described as “terror targets” along the border with Gaza, the army announced late Saturday. In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces said that it views Hamas as responsible for what happens in Gaza.

Palestinian sources say that a tunnel was the target of the attack.

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Earlier, the IDF informed the Palestinians on Saturday evening that it was decided to temporarily close for all traffic the Kerem Shalom crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, starting Sunday morning. The army said the decision, which is unusual, was reached “in accordance with current assessments.”

The crossing is the Gaza Strip’s main line of supplies. Every day roughly 500 trucks, carrying goods from the West Bank and Israel, pass through it and into the coastal enclave. Recently, tensions have run high along the border, where Israel continues to build an anti-tunnel wall and where three offensive tunnels were recently unearthed, as well as a recent surge in rocket fire.

Israel attributes the rocket fire to Salafist groups in Gaza, and in one case has attributed fire to Islamic Jihad. Since U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, more than 40 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from Gaza, only half of which landed in Israeli territory. No Israelis were hurt by rocket fire.

Israeli officials, and among them the prime minister, the defense minister and the military’s chief of staff, have recently warned Hamas and Islamic Jihad on several occasions against continuing to dig tunnels and announced that Israel would act to locate and destroy them. Last week the IDF’s chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot, oversaw a drill of an elite IDF unit which centered on a scenario of a large terror cell infiltrating an Israeli community along the border with the Gaza Strip through a tunnel.

Over the weekend, Palestinian demonstrations continued close to the security barrier along the Strip, focusing on protest against Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai, published a statement in which he accused Hamas of handing out hand grenades to youngsters who participated in the protests. The latter then hurled the hand grenades toward IDF troops close to the security barrier.

In the West Bank, security forces are continuing to hunt after the Palestinian cell whose members shot to death last week Rabbi Raziel Shevach near the illegal outpost of Havat Gilad, west of Nablus. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated that he expects to see progress soon in the cracking of the case that led to the terror attack.

The Israeli military and the Shin Bet are both disturbed by acts of violence carried out by extreme right-wing activist in reaction to the murder of Shevach. Since the attack at least eight cases have been recorded of the destruction of Palestinian property by Israelis in the Nablus area, such as the smashing of car windows and the destruction of Palestinian olive trees.

Amos Harel
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Israel: Issue if Legalizing Settlements Expected To Boil After Israeli man killed in West Bank drive-by shooting attack

January 10, 2018

Slain rabbi to be laid to rest at illegal outpost Havat Gilad ■ Arab lawmaker blasts U.S. ambassador for ‘hypocrisy’ for calling out Palestinians on terror

By Yaniv Kubovich and Yotam Berger Jan 10, 2018 12:43 PM

File photo: Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in the West Bank

File photo: Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in the West Bank Olivier Fitouss

After terror attack, Israeli army imposes partial lockdown on West Bank city, villages
Israel set to approve hundreds of new settlement homes in West Bank

Israeli cabinet ministers called Wednesday for the legalization of an illegal West Bank outpost after one of its residents was murdered in a terror attack.

On Wednesday morning, Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot visited the Havat Gilad outpost where Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, a father of six, had been shot to death the night before, hit by bullets fired from a car driving along the West Bank’s main route.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach, the victim of a drive-by shooting attack in the West Bank on January 9, 2018.
Rabbi Raziel Shevach, the victim of a drive-by shooting attack in the West Bank on January 9, 2018.Courtesy of Rabbi Raziel Shevach’s family

Eisenkot was briefed on the attack and ensuing actions by army and Shin Bet security service forces. The actions included a curfew and partial lockdown on Nablus and Palestinian villages in the area amid the efforts to find the shooter or shooters.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was among the politicians who called on Wednesday for the legalization of the wildcat outpost. “The security forces are hunting the terrorists who murdered Rabbi Raziel Shevach,” Lieberman said.

“I feel the intense grief of his wife Yael and his six children,” Lieberman said. “I have ordered the heads of the Defense Ministry to help the family and the residents of Havat Gilad. In tandem, I have ordered them to examine how to formalize the status of Havat Gilad and make it a regular settlement in the West Bank.”

Havat Gilad

Havat Gilad is home to about 50 families and is situated near the Palestinian town of Jit, some 10 kilometers (6 miles) west of Nablus.

Havat Gilad was illegally founded in 2002 following the murder of the settler Gilad Zar, security coordinator of the Shomron Regional Council, who was shot to death the year before. Not one of the buildings in the settlement has a construction permit, and from time to time, its residents find themselves evicted. Even so, the outpost still houses dozens of families.

Israel’s answer to Shevach’s murder will be to regulate Havat Gilad, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked stated on Wednesday, joining the chorus of ministers calling for the settlement’s legitimization.

Achieving that would first require the cabinet to formally resolve on establishing a “new settlement,” though Havat Gilad is about 16 years old.

A master plan would then need approving by the relevant authorities, and retroactive building permits would be issued, thereby legalizing the illegal homes. In other words, legitimizing Havat Gilad would be a protracted bureaucratic process requiring work at different levels of government.

Responding to the attack, Education Minister Naftali Bennett made similar comments.

Issawi Frej, an Israeli Arab lawmaker from the left-wing Meretz party, blasted the government for looking into legalizing the outpost, saying that “every death is painful, Jewish or Arab, but encouraging outlaws will only lead to more bloodshed.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman also responded to the attack, slamming both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

His comments inspired anger, with Israeli Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi blasting what he called Friedman’s “hypocrisy.” “Friedman is horrified? I didn’t hear him say a word when an Israeli snipper shot a double amputee in Gaza or when the young Mohammad Tamimi was shot in his head.

“It is because of this hypocrisy and double standard, and because of the Trump’s administration’s positions on the conflict, that the blood shed continues. When these are the representatives of the [U.S.] government, no wonder there is no peace,” Tibi said.

Drivers wait as Israeli forces man a roadblock on January 10, 2018 in the area where a 35-year-old Israeli rabbi was killed late the previous day while driving near the wildcat settlement where he lived, around the West Bank village of Jit near Nablus. 
Israeli forces set up roadblocks and deployed around a major Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank in a manhunt for a gunman who shot dead an Israeli settler. Raziel Shevah. Some 22 gunshots were found in his car, Israel's army radio reported. The gunshots reportedly came from a passing vehicle. / AFP PHOTO / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH
Drivers wait as Israeli forces man a roadblock on January 10, 2018 in the area where a 35-year-old Israeli rabbi was killed late the previous day while driving near the wildcat settlement where he livJAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP

The Israeli army put the West Bank city of Nablus and neighboring villages on partial lockdown Wednesday, setting up roadblocks at all entrances and exits after the terror attack. Palestinian movement was permitted within the villages and locals were allowed to move between them via checkpoints.

The army searched the villages in the area overnight in search of the terrorists behind the shooting attack.

Shevach’s funeral took place Wednesday afternoon in Havat Gilad. “He was murdered for being a Jew in the land of Israel,” Yossi Dagan, head of the Shomron Regional Council said during his funeral.

His widow, Yael Shevach, said it was always his wish to be buried in the settlement outpost that he and his family called home.

“We decided, together as a family, to bury him in the place he had dedicated himself to,” Yael Shevach said. “Raziel said that if something was ever to happen to him, he wanted to be buried in Havat Gilad. We respect his wishes and will bury him in the settlement he loved so much.”

Yaniv Kubovich
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