About those terror tunnels, and how Hamas used child labour to build them

The Gaza Underground

The whole world has heard by now of the huge underground city known as the Hamas terror tunnels, a network of which has been dug to emerge within Israeli kibbutzim and towns around Gaza, besides other tunnels which are “only” for smuggling goods or for hiding Hamas officials in.

Tablet Magazine now reveals to us that Hamas used child labour to build those tunnels:

It pains all reasonable people to hear of children dying as the consequence of war. Hamas and its supporters display gruesome pictures of dead and wounded children in order to gain sympathy for their portrait of Israel as the villain intent on killing Palestinians. In response, Israel cites the need to stop Hamas from firing thousands of rockets at its own children, who are being forced to live in bomb shelters, as well as the need to eliminate the tunnels that Hamas dug into Israel in order to carry out terror attacks against Israelis. One tunnel opening was found underneath an Israeli kindergarten.

But who built those tunnels? The answer is Hamas, of course—using some of the same children who are now trapped under fire in Gaza.

The Institute for Palestine Studies published a detailed report on Gaza’s Tunnel Phenomenon in the summer of 2012. It reported that tunnel construction in Gaza has resulted in a large number of child deaths.

“At least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials”

The author, Nicolas Pelham, explains that Hamas uses child laborers to build their terror tunnels because, “much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies”.

Human rights groups operating in Gaza raised concerns about child labor in the tunnels as far back as 2008. Hamas responded by saying it was “considering curbs.” Following Operation Cast Lead in 2009 Hamas softened its position and the Interior Ministry established the Tunnel Affairs Commission (TAC) which, “In response to public concern at a rising toll of tunnel casualties, particularly of child workers…issued guidelines intended to ensure safe working conditions.” No mention is made in the report of the conditions that would result for both Palestinian and Israeli children from building tunnels that would be used to launch terror attacks.

Nor does it seem that Hamas paid much subsequent attention to ensuring the safety of the child workers that it used to build the tunnels that would wind up endangering the lives of many in Gaza. On a tour of the tunnels in 2011, Pelham noted that, “nothing was done to impede the use of children in the tunnels.”

Not only are Hamas misappropriating much of the humanitarian aid supplied to Gaza—800,000 tons of cement were used to construct the terror tunnels into Israel—they are also directly exploiting and endangering Gaza’s youth in their construction and operation.

Here’s a tweet from the IDF spokesman showing a map of the tunnels (I presume more accurate than the graphic at the top). Note how complex and widespread they are:

We all know that Hamas planned to commit murder and kidnapping via those tunnels. What has become evident now is the utterly horrifying, even demonic, plan of Hamas: Israeli security sources confirmed that Hamas planned a mega-attack on Rosh Hashana:

Israeli Security sources say that Hamas had a plan to attack kibbutzim near the Hamas tunnel exits this coming Rosh Hashanah in a coordinated attack with an invasion force of over 200 terrorists and an objective to kill or kidnap as many Israelis as possible.

The information comes from captured prisoners who have constructed this most horrifying picture. Security sources say that Hamas plan was “lowering the State of Israel to its knees.” Prime Minster Netanyahu was reported by Israeli newspaper Maariv, as saying the goal was to use dozens of Hamas tunnels simultaneously. Tunnels have been found and dug under many kibbutzim that surround Gaza. One tunnel was even found to have its exit right next to the entrance to the dining hall of a Kibbutz.

Hamas terror tunnels branching out (from the IDF Spokesperson)

Maariv’s sources in Israeli security confirmed Hamas had a plan to attack kibbutzim near the tunnel exits this coming Rosh Hashanah with an invasion force of over 200 terrorists. The plan was to launch the 200 terrorists at once, through dozens of tunnels, across six towns in the western Negev. In most cases the tunnel exited into the hearts of those Israeli communities. The coordinated attack would occupy the whole area and kill and/or kidnap as many Israeli civilians as possible, depending on circumstances. Abducted Israelis would be transferred via the tunnels to the Gaza Strip.

Israel Matzav adds:

The most terrifying detail is being uncovered that Hamas had a plan to attack all the settlements and kibbutzim in the area this year on Rosh Hashanah with an invasion of over 200 terrorists into almost all the settlements in the area. The tunnels went under the kibbutzim under the kindergartens and dining rooms and other areas within the kibbutz perimeters. They planned to occupy the whole area and kill as many Israeli as possible.

This could have been the worst terror attack in the history of terrorism. Thousands of people, including women and children would have been slaughtered in this planned attack.

I feel sick just to think about it. It does not bear imagining. What kind of warped, sadistic, fiendish minds came up with a diabolical plan like this? (Rhetorical question, don’t bother sending answers on a postcard…).  If I were a resident of any of those communities I would never be able to sleep soundly in my bed again for fear of a terrorist popping up in my house.

So where did Hamas get hold of all that concrete? And what could they have built with it had it not all been poured down a vast hole underground? The Tablet gives us “some concrete facts about Hamas”:

 Israeli troops entering Gaza last week have so far uncovered 18 tunnels used by Hamas to send armed terrorists into Israel and built using an estimated 800,000 tons of concrete.

What else might that much concrete build? Erecting Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, required 110,000 tons of concrete. Hamas, then, could’ve treated itself to seven such monstrosities and still had a few tens of thousands of tons to spare. If it wanted to build kindergartens equipped with bomb shelters, like Israel has built for the besieged citizens of Sderot, for example—after all, noted military strategists like Jon Stewart have spent last week proclaiming that Gaza’s citizens had nowhere to hide from Israel’s artillery—Hamas could have used its leftovers to whip up about two that were each as big as Giants Stadium. And that’s just 18 tunnels. Egypt, on its end, recently claimed to have destroyed an additional 1,370. That’s a lot of concrete.

The intention behind Hamas’ tunnels is clear from where the exits are located: inside Israel. [See earlier description of their plan for a mega-attack on Rosh Hashanah - Ed.]

So, where did Hamas get all that concrete? Most of it came from you and your government. Hamas got its hands on the supplies it needed to build the tunnels after it pleaded with the international community last year to help redeem Gaza from the throes of a humanitarian crisis, caused by the fact that both Israel and Egypt closed their borders to Gaza, because both countries grew tired of having their soldiers and citizens murdered by terrorists. Needless to say, Israel’s concerns about how the concrete would be used were universally derided in the West as inflicting cruel and needless suffering on the people of Gaza—who, needless to say, didn’t receive any of the concrete for their own use. The priorities of Ismail Haniyeh’s government were crystal clear—to use all resources at their disposal to launch another war with Israel.

We are left with a harsh realization that makes so many of us, good liberal Jews reared on the principle that nothing stands outside the realm of reason, deeply uncomfortable: There’s no negotiating with Hamas. Not because of some lofty and abstract principle—we don’t negotiate with terrorists!—but because Hamas isn’t here to talk or build or heal the wounded people of Gaza. The organization’s raison d’etre is killing people in order to bring about the rule of its fundamentalist and radically intolerant brand of Islam—they shoot Jews, and they also shoot anyone else the organizations doesn’t like, including Egyptian soldiers, gays, and political opponents from other Palestinian factions.

Anyone with a genuine commitment to human rights—not to mention sympathy for the Palestinian cause—should join Israel in its efforts to rid the world of such sheer evil and topple Hamas.

Harsh words indeed but very well-said. I hope they wake up some closed minds in liberal circles.

The IDF blog gives us the price of the terror tunnels with an easy-to-read graphic:

Spelling it out in clear prose:

Construction materials meant for Palestinians routinely enter Gaza from Israel. To be exact, 4,680 trucks carrying 181 thousand tons of gravel, iron, cement, wood and other supplies have passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing since the beginning of 2014.

Imagine what Hamas could build with these resources instead of tunnels. Hundreds of homes and civilian structures for the residents of Gaza go unbuilt while the underground terror network continues to expand.

Watch this video to see what Hamas themselves say about the tunnels – and what the average Gazan says when he is able to speak anonymously. Note how they hate Hamas almost as much as we do:

And here is one more video, this time not a tunnel but a booby trapped house, but with the same inhuman purpose:

Do you imagine we will now see anti-Hamas demonstrations worldwide decrying their use of child labour? Or of planning to kill hundreds of Israelis on a holy day?  Can we expect a UNHRC condemnation of the use of child labour? Or of a plan to kill Jews on one of the holiest days in the calendar? Or on any day at all?

Best not hold your breath. Turning blue is not fashionable this year.

Posted in Defence and Military, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Two great videos defending Israel in the media

Here are two videos, radically different from each other, but each with the same message. First is Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to the US, who staunchly defends the IDF’s actions while castigating CNN for its biased and lacking coverage of Israel:

Well said Mr. Dermer! Kol hakavod for pointing out CNN’S blatant bias. I’m glad he put them on the spot and embarrassed them in public. Let’s hope we see many more interviews like this. Alternatively let’s hope the media clean up their act.

And here, in absolutely clear terms with no room for misinterpretation, is the American comedienne Joan Rivers (via Fay in the comments and Renana), in an characteristically outspoken (but untypically clean-language) defence of Israel.

Wow! That was brilliant – and even better for being unscripted and so impassioned.

Send me any other pro-Israel videos that you may have seen around the web. We need the morale boost – and the prevailing anti-Israel bias in the media needs to be confronted head on.

Some further pro-Israel reading: Dan Hodges at the Telegraph: “Israel’s critics don’t want a proportionate response. They don’t want a response at all“.  Here’s a tiny excerpt, but read it all:

Like it or not, Israel is a sovereign, democratic state. Not only does it have the right to defend itself, its people expect it to defend itself. And when you’re sitting huddled in a bomb shelter, and then emerge to see the charred remnants of a Qassam rocket sticking out of the roof of your child’s school, I suspect it shapes your perception of what a “proportionate” response actually is.

So what is it that we want? Do we want the troops, the bombs, the cruise missiles, the drones, the artillery, the death squads, the blockades or the sanctions? Because if we say Israel has a right to defend itself, and mean it then, then we’re going to have stop handwringing and start choosing. And if we don’t, then we’re going to have to be honest and admit we don’t want Israel to defend itself at all.

And here’s Richard Littlejohn at the Daily Mail who speculates “What would happen if a Hamas rocket hit a BA plane?”:

Some people seem to think that because Israel has pretty effective air defences, it should absorb the pain and not retaliate.

Israel shelters behind sophisticated technology. Hamas hides behind women and children, in schools, hospitals and mosques.

Yet, as far as its useful idiots in Britain and Europe are concerned, Israel is the only one guilty of ‘war crimes’, no matter how many precautions it takes to avoid innocent deaths.

Hamas has no regard for human life, on either side. Every death is a propaganda victory, amplified by gullible sympathisers in the  Western media.

But there is rarely any condemnation of this cynical campaign of terror, or of its oil-rich sponsors who want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

Is Iran going to stop supplying weapons to Hamas? No. Is Qatar going to stop bankrolling terrorism? What do you think?

Again, read it all.

And if you read any other pro-Israel articles online, please share them with us or send me the links in the comments or by email. We all need to have our mood lifted with some moral support.

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Media and journalism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Operation Protective Edge weekend roundup: more IDF casualties, Israel reject’s Kerry’s idea of a ceasefire

As Operation Protective Edge ends its 2nd week we hear that sadly 6 more soldiers were killed over Friday and Shabbat, bringing the death toll to 40:

 The IDF announced early Saturday evening that three soldiers had been killed in the Gaza Strip during the day, bringing the death toll during Operation Protective Edge to 40.

The soldiers were Lt. Roy Peles, 21, of Tel Aviv, killed when an armored vehicle was hit by militant fire; Ssgt. Avraham Grintzvaig, 21, of Petah Tikva, killed in a firefight in the northern Gaza Strip; Ssgt. Gal Bason, 21, of Holon, also killed in northern Gaza.

Three IDF soldiers killed Saturday, July 26, from left to right: Roy Peles, Avraham Grintzvaig, Gal Bason HY’D

The military also released the name of the second of two soldiers killed Friday overnight in Gaza. He was Amit Yeori, 20, from Jerusalem.

St. Sgt. Amit Yeori HY’D

Earlier the IDF had said that two soldiers were killed overnight, giving the name of one as Guy Boyland, 21 years old from Ginosar.

St. Sgt. Guy Boyland HY’D

On Friday the military had announced the deaths of two soldiers: Master Sgt. Yair Ashkenazy and Staff Sgt. Guy Levy.

St. Sgt. Guy Levy HY’D

Levy was killed by an anti-tank missile fired from near a UN school, the IDF said. Mortar shells and anti-tank missiles were fired “from a structure near an UNRWA school,” the IDF said, killing Levy and injuring several others.

My heart goes out to the families of these soldiers as to all the others. May their deaths not have been in vain and may Hashem avenge their blood.

In late news, the IDF announced that a further two soldiers died of their wounds:

The IDF releases the names of two Israeli soldiers who succumbed to their wounds on Saturday.

Cpt. Liad Lavi, 22, of Talmei Yosef, died Saturday after being wounded Thursday in the southern Gaza Strip.

SGM Rami Kahlon, a non-commissioned officer in the paratroopers, 39, of Hadera, died Saturday after being injured in combat on Tuesday near the border with the Gaza Strip.

The IDF death toll in Operation Protective Edge now stands at 42.

Baruch Dayan Emet. May their memories be for a blessing.

The IDF meanwhile updated regarding the missing, feared abducted soldier:

The military also said Friday that Sgt. Oron Shaul, previously declared Missing in Action and claimed by Hamas to have been kidnapped, was killed in the Gaza neighborhood of Shejaiya on July 13, during a bloody battle in which six other IDF troops died as well. The missing soldier’s remains have not been found, but a special IDF ethics committee ruled that sufficient evidence exists to determine that Shaul was killed in the attack.

IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz notified the soldier’s family that Shaul was designated a fallen soldier “whose place of burial is unknown.” This means a funeral will not be held at this time.

The poor family. I cannot begin to imagine what they are going through. Let’s hope that the IDF manage to recover Oron’s body to give the family, and the nation, closure.

Moving to the ceasefire that wasn’t. Or it was, but then it wasn’t:

Just before Shabbat started the cabinet sat down to discuss a temporary ceasefire.  Here’s what happened next – Israeli ministers rejected John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal, saying he had completely capitulated to Hamas:

Israeli government sources on Saturday night accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of “completely capitulating” to the demands of Hamas and its champion Qatar in drafting the Gaza war ceasefire proposal that Israeli ministers unanimously rejected on Friday.

The unnamed sources, quoted by Israel’s Channel 2 TV, said Kerry “dug a tunnel under the Egyptian ceasefire proposal” — which Israel accepted and Hamas rejected last week — and presented the Israeli government with a text that accepted “most of the demands” raised by Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules the Strip.

To the “horror” of the Israeli ministers, the Kerry proposal accepted Hamas’s demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza — where Israel and Egypt fear the import of weaponry; the construction of a seaport; and the creation of a post-conflict funding channel for Hamas from Qatar and other countries, according to the sources. The proposal, meanwhile, did not even provide for Israel to continue demolishing the Hamas network of “terror tunnels” dug under the Israeli border.

Rather than provoke an open diplomatic confrontation with the United States, the report said, the appalled ministers chose not to issue an official statement rejecting the Kerry terms. Instead, word of the decision was allowed to leak out.

In my own, totally undiplomatic opinion, Israel should have indeed created an open break with the US. It has become more than obvious that they are no ally of Israel in this war. See below for more:

Israel and Hamas did maintain a humanitarian truce through Saturday, during which Israel continued to track and demolish some of the Hamas tunnels.

Israel was also fuming Saturday over the tactics followed by Secretary Kerry since Friday night in his ceasefire quest.

Kerry flew to Paris and held talks Saturday without representatives of Israel, the Palestinian Authority or Egypt, but with Qatar and Turkey, which Israel’s Communications Minister Gilad Erdan said showed “we’re a long way from a political solution.”

Privately, Israeli sources signaled deep dismay that Kerry engaged in the talks in Paris with representatives of Turkey, whose leadership is openly hostile to Israel, and Qatar, whose leadership is seen by Israel to be representing Hamas’s interests. Egypt was also understood to be deeply dissatisfied with Kerry’s tactics.

Israeli government sources also privately contradicted Kerry’s assertion Friday that his ceasefire proposal was “built on” the Egyptian proposal from last Tuesday. Far from resembling the Egyptian proposal, which urges an immediate ceasefire followed by negotiation, the Kerry proposal leans heavily toward Hamas, the sources said, in tying Hamas preconditions to a cessation of hostilities.

Adding insult to injury:

An Army Radio report on Friday night highlighted that the US on Monday signed an $11 billion arms deal with Qatar, and noted that Qatar is championing Hamas’s demands in the ceasefire negotiations, and is also alleged by Israel to be financing Hamas’s rocket production, tunnel digging infrastructure, and other elements of its military infrastructure. The radio report also claimed that Ban Ki-moon “is flying around the region on a Qatari plane.”

 

I’m at a loss to understand why Israel doesn’t declare John Kerry persona non grata in Israel, and certainly why we pay him the slightest attention. He certainly does not have Israel’s best interests at heart, and is damaging the US’s interests at the same time.

You know things are bad when even the leftist Haaretz newspaper slams Kerry. Barak Ravid asks “What was Kerry thinking?“. (My undiplomatic answer: he can think?)

During the 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire that took place during Shabbat Palestinians recovered dozens of bodies from the rubble in Gaza, and the number of dead has now reached over 1,000.

An Israeli APC moves towards Gaza

The IDF updates:

IDF forces target over 150 “terror sites” in the Gaza Strip over the past 24 hours.

The military says it hit almost 4,000 such sites since Operation Protective Edge began on July 8.

The IDF agreed to a further extension of the humanitarian truce until midnight (just passed here) but Hamas took no notice and began rocketing the south of Israel the minute the first ceasefire (until 8 p.m.) was over.

Until the 1st ceasefire ran out, only 9 rockets were fired at Israel during the day (does that include the barrage last night as people returned from synagogue?). At any rate the number has risen since the truce ended.

Around 1,000 Israelis took part in an anti-war demonstration in Tel Aviv tonight. I am completely mystified. They have done this twice now, and each time received rockets for their troubles. Do they think Hamas will love them more and kill them last if they demonstrate? We tried not making war – and look where that got us. These people are delusional.

The terrorists tell us what they think:

And the Prime Minister’s office sums up the situation perfectly and succinctly:

May we have a quiet night and a better tomorrow.

May Hashem protect our soldiers and watch over us.

Posted in Israel news, International relations, Terrorism, Defence and Military | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Good News Friday – war edition

Last week I couldn’t bring myself to post a Good News Friday installment. The news seemed to be unrelentingly bad and I couldn’t shake myself out of my depression.

Another terrible week has gone by with heavy losses by the IDF and devastation for those soldiers families. There have been incessant heavy rocket barrages throughout the country but particularly on the south, and people have been injured and property damaged (though you wouldn’t know it outside of Israel).

Nevertheless I feel the need to bring some bright points of light to you before Shabbat, so this is going to be a Good News Friday with a difference, more of an emphasis on the war and surrounding issues.

220 American Olim arrive in Israel under fire

My first item is the wonderful news that a plane-load of immigrants, this time from the US, arrived on Aliya this week, undeterred by the war:

Despite the tense security situation in Israel, 228 new Olim from the United States and Canada arrived at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday, July 22, on a Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah charter flight to Israel. Of these Olim, a remarkable 100 are children who made Aliyah with their parents.

The children include 39 girls and 61 boys. Altogether, 29 families and 54 singles will be on this landmark flight, which took place in collaboration with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA.

Due to the complicated security situation in Israel, Nefesh B’Nefesh is reaching out to the Olim, briefing them, and providing counseling and support. As they arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, each Oleh received a special booklet by the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption on security measures, such as what to do when a Code Red siren sounds warning of incoming rockets. The Olim were also provided with an English-language manual from the Home Front Command on how to talk to your children about the situation, translated by Nefesh B’Nefesh.

Dozens of these Olim are planning to live in Israel’s south and north, as part of a joint project to settle Olim in the Negev and the Galilee. Those who are planning to live in the south also received special briefings about the security situation, such as information about trauma counseling and support from English-speaking Olim living in the south.

I stand in absolute awe and admiration for these Olim. Unlike the French olim from last week, they are not running from antisemitism. In fact they are leaving comfortable lives and a serene environment for a war zone. Kol hakavod seems much too mild a word. We are indeed blessed to have such brave wonderful people join our nation.

Here’s a picture that needs no words (from Mike Cohen’s twitter feed):

IDF Givati reservist asks his girl to marry him when she came between battles w/a gourmet meal for the entire battalion

Mazal tov!

A wonderful little item from the Muqata’s facebook page:

2:45pm Israel’s Defense Minister, MK Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon helped start writing a Chabad sponsored sefer torah scroll … for the merit of IDF soldiers and victory over our enemies. This is Israel today.

Am Yisrael Chai!

Moshe Yaalon writes a letter in the Sefer Torah

Kol hakavod to Moshe Yaalon and to Chabad. May this Sefer Torah help protect the soldiers of Israel and bring them home safely.

Some news from the front now – but not quite the news you might have been expecting:

The invaluable Muqata, on his blog this time, brings us a wonderful letter from a soldier at the front:

From a Solider at the Front. Original in Hebrew….translated into English with a few comments from me. Having been down there a few times, I can personally vouch for the accuracy of this letter. On a personal note, before going down South last night for a pizza delivery to IDF soldiers, my daughter gave me a stack of letters and pictures from children in our community to distribute to the delivery. After giving the soldiers 60 pies, I said, “Wait, I have to give you the letters from the kids…” A soldier stopped everything and said — “THOSE are the most important…much more than the pizza…and hugged a pile of letters that I gave him.”

On the Life in Israel site I found a picture illustrating this attitude exactly. The soldiers stuck the children’s letters to their tank before entering Gaza!

these soldiers took the letters and pictures received from children around the country, and decorated their tank (armored vehicle?) with them!

Jameel at the Muqata continues the soldier’s letter:

What’s happening here in the staging area [area where soldiers prepare to enter Gaza] is beyond comprehension, not rationally, not emotionally and beggars the imagination.

Almost every hour a car shows up overflowing with food, snacks, cold drinks, socks, underwear, undershirts, hygiene supplies, wipes, cigarettes, backgammon and more. They’re coming from the North and the Center, from manufacturers, from companies and private businesses, from prisons, Chareidim and Settlers, from Tel Aviv and even Saviyon.

Every intersection on they way down here we get stopped, not by the police, but be residents giving out food. What is amazing is that the entire situation wasn’t organized and everyone is coming on their own without coordination between the folks coming.

They’re writing letters and blessings, how they’re thinking of us all the time. There are those who spent hours making sandwiches, so they’re as perfect and comforting as possible.

Of course representatives of Chabad are here to help soldiers put on Tefillin and distributing Cha’Ta’Ts (Chumash, Tehillim, Tanya) for every troop transport and Breslov are showing up to the border and dancing with the soldiers with great joy.

The Chareidim are coming from their yeshivot to ask the names of the soldiers with their mothers’ names so that the whole yeshiva can pray for them. It should be mentioned that all of this is done under the threat of the terrorist tunnels and rockets in the area.

Soroka Hospital (in Be’er Sheva) today looks like a 5 star hotel. A wounded friend who was recently discharged told us how the MasterChef truck is parked outside and is preparing food for the wounded.

Read the whole amazing letter. It brought a smile to my face and tears of emotion to my eyes. We really can say מי כעמך ישראל – “who is like Your people Israel!?”.  Thank G-d for all those wonderful people who are going out of their way to keep up the morale of the soldiers at the front.

Naftali Bennett saves the day again for Israel for his excellent rebuttal of accusations of targeting civilians on Sky News:

And speaking of videos, here are two fantastic videos of worldwide support for Israel. The first is from … Egypt! As the Elder of Ziyon says, this man has guts. I hope he keeps safe.

A young Israel man had a similar idea and asked his friends around the world to show their support for Israel. Here’s his heart-warming video:

With all these wonderful items, I hope I’ve put you all in a better mood for Shabbat.

Wishing you all a quiet, peaceful and safe Shabbat. Shabbat Shalom everyone.

May Hashem protect all the soldiers of Israel and bring them home safely. May He watch over all of us.

הנה לא ינום ולא ישן שומר ישראל

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Operation Protective Edge Day 18 – another casualty, more rockets, Islamic Jihad leaders targeted

We’re now halfway into the 18th day of Operation Protective Edge and the 8th day of the ground operation.

Here’s a quick summary which I won’t update until after Shabbat unless something very dramatic happens before Shabbat.

Day 18 … The ground offensive is a week old now, and Israeli military sources say approximately 200-500 Hamas gunmen are dead. But the fighting — and the rocket fire into Israel — continues, and there is no ceasefire in the offing.

Sadly another soldier was killed this morning, bring the total number of IDF dead to 33:

Sergeant First Class (res.) Yair Ashkenazi was killed in the early morning hours of Friday during operational activity in the northern Gaza Strip, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit reported. Ashkenazi is the 33rd casualty of Operation Protective Edge.

Sgt. 1st class Yair Ashkenazy HY'D

Sgt. 1st class Yair Ashkenazi HY’D

Ashkenazi is survived by his wife and three children, the youngest of which was born a few months. The couple moved to Rehovot from the north six years ago. Ashkenazi, a lawyer by profession, worked as an external legal counsel to Modi’in Municipality.

May his memory be for a blessing and may his death not be in vain.

There have been several rocket barrages over south and central Israel again today, including yet another one over PT.

12:18 p.m. Rocket alert sirens sound in Eshkol Regional Council.

11:50 a.m. Three rockets intercepted over Rishon Lezion. One man went into shock.

11:45 a.m.  Gazan rockets fired at Tel Aviv and intercepted. Sirens sound in Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion airport, Rishon Lezion, Ness Ziona, Rehovot and Yavne.

11:25 a.m. Iron Dome intercepts a number of rockets over Ashkelon; direct hit on home reported, no injuries.

11:10 a.m Rocket sirens sound throughout Ashkelon, Sharon and Dan regions in southern and central Israel.

9:36 a.m. The IDF and Shin Bet killed senior Islamic Jihad member Salah Abu Hasnin on Friday morning by targeting his Rafah home by air. Since Thursday morning, the IDF has killed around 40 terrorists in Gaza.

7:53 a.m. Sirens sounded in Ashkelon and the communities surrounding Gaza.

The IDF targeted 45 terror sites overnight:

The IDF says it targeted 45 sites overnight Thursday-Friday.

Targets include a command post, which houses Hamas internal security offices, as well as the office of senior Hamas member Ra’at Habat.

According to army figures, 65,000 reservists have been drafted so far. Since the beginning of the ground operation last week, 843 rockets were fired at Israel. The Iron Dome intercepted 166, while 658 struck inside Israel.

The total number of rockets fired at Israel since the beginning of Protective Edge is over 2,000.

The IDF also released the names of the senior Islamic Jihad commanders it targeted:

Shortly after the Shin Bet confirms it killed senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Salah Ahmed Hassanein, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit releases the names of senior terrorists it targeted in the past week:

• Tafat Muhammad Hamed, a senior PIJ operative in the Beit Hanoun area. The IDF says he was responsible for rocket attacks into Israel.

• Hasim Abad Elkader Mecusan, a senior PIJ operative in the area of Shejaiya.

• Akrem Sha’ad, senior PIJ operative in the area of Khan Yunis.

• Mahmud Ziada, a senior PIJ operative in the area of Jabaliya.

• Ahmed Sahamood, a senior terrorist in the Khan Yunis area.

• Asama Alhia, a leading Hamas terrorist around Shejaiya. Alhia was the son of Halil Alhia, a senior member of Hamas’s political wing.

• Mahmad Shaaban, a senior Hamas operative.

• Abdala al-Haras, a senior leader in Hamas’s military wing.

Turkish Jews seem to have a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome as they urge the AJC not to withdraw an award given to Turkish PM Recepp Tayipp Erdogan, who has lately been given to raving and making lunatic anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements.

10,000 at violent Palestinian riot at Kalandia

The IDF and police are on high alert after last night’s violence by Palestinians in and around Jerusalem and Kalandia.

Israeli security forces are on heightened alert Friday after two Palestinian man were shot dead during a huge protest in the West Bank against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

Palestinian factions in the West Bank declared a “Day of Rage” after the Thursday night clashes, which took place throughout the West Bank and in some sectors of Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

Police say that, due to fears of violent protest over the deadly Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip, they will bar men under the age of 50 from Jerusalem’s flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque for what are usually packed prayers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Palestinian security and medical officials named one of the slain men as Mohammed al-Aaraj, 25, and said he was among at least 10,000 people who clashed with soldiers and Border Police in Qalandiya, between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

They said 150 people were wounded by Israeli fire, with five of them in critical condition.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appealed for blood donors.

The army tells AFP that live fire was used in a confrontation with the protesters after some threw rocks, firecrackers and petrol bombs at soldiers and Border Police.

The fighting ended in the early hours of Friday, an army spokeswoman says.

Israeli public radio said Palestinians and troops also clashed in the areas of the West Bank cities of Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem and Tulkarem.

The confrontations came on Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Destiny, when Muslims pray through the night as Ramadan nears its end.

Large numbers of police were deployed throughout Jerusalem Thursday night. The police said two officers were injured by stone-throwers near the al-Aqsa mosque.

Police say that 39 protesters were arrested in various violent disturbances in Palestinian areas of the city. At least 27 police officers were slightly injured in the clashes.

The fear is that Hamas is trying to heat up the Israeli-PA front as well as Gaza.

Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and abroad are calling on Palestinians in the West Bank to start a Third Intifada.

Qatar-based Hamas spokesman Husham Badran, responding to the reports of clashes between thousands of Palestinians and police at the Qalandiya checkpoint, says the timing is right to rise up, Israel Radio reports.

“This is your opportunity,” he says to West Bank Palestinians.

Hamas official Izat a-Rishk calls, on Twitter, for a revolution against the enemy, adding that the blood of Gazans ignites the West Bank.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri says the events at Qalandiya prove that the Palestinians are one people and that Gaza cannot be isolated.

The outrage at Israel over the school bombing in Gaza, most of it manufactured sanctimony in order to smear Israel, is still ongoing. To remind you, the IDF says that the casualties are probably from Hamas rockets that fell short.  The horrific Palestinian child abuse continues, as reports come in from injured IDF troops that terrorists charge at the soldiers “with a gun in one hand and a baby in the other” hoping to cause the death of either the soldier or the baby. It’s a win-win situation for them.

Illustrating this ghastly situation, Here’s a timely reminder of what Israel is facing – an excellent video “I hope the Gazans love their children too”. (Hint: it would seem the answer is – No).

I conclude this post with the news that the cabinet is discussing John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal. However the latest report (on TV) is that Netanyahu objects to any ceasefire that does not enable Israel to continue dealing with the terror tunnel threat. Ynet reports (not updated though):

 Prime Minister Netanyahu, who will convene his security cabinet at 3 pm Friday, has said any truce should lead to the eventual stripping of Gaza’s rocket arsenals – something Hamas rules out.

However, some senior coalition members and members of the security cabinet, are already objecting to the truce – regardless of its length or timing – though Netanyahu himself is said to support the idea.

Bayit Yehudi chairman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett has expressed his absolute objection to any such deal.

“We must not take our foot of the gas pedal now,” sources close to the minister said, adding that “(Bennett) objects to any deal that does not include Hamas of its rockets and the dismantling of all tunnels in Gaza.”

Likud strongman and Interior Minister Gideon Saar said “we need to reject the ceasefire… what we should do is continue and even expand Operation Protective Edge.”

Sources said that because of the disagreements in the cabinet, Netanyahu decided to postpone the meeting from 1:30 to 3 pm Friday.

Alongside Bennett, Foreign Minister Lieberman indicated during the week that he supports the continued bid to dismantle Hamas, and senior Likud members and Communication Minister Gilad Erdan also said he would not support ending the operation before the IDF has completed its mission.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid, a centrist, has not yet publically commented on where he stands regarding a ceasefire. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to support the deal.

Stay tuned.

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Operation Protective Edge Day 17: FAA flight ban rescinded, President Rivlin sworn in; Gaza school hit , Palestinians riot in Jerusalem

Thursday was the 17th day of Operation Protective Edge and the 7th day of the ground operation (I think. It’s becoming hard to keep count).

The salient incidents of the day were as follows:

El Al flew during FAA ban

The FAA ban on flying in and out of Ben Gurion Airport was rescinded after it was initially extended for another 24 hours:

Just twelve hours after it renewed a 24-hour ban on US flights to and from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, the Federal Aviation Authority on Thursday withdrew the ban, setting the stage for US and international carriers to resume flights. Europe’s Aviation Safety Agency, which had issued a “strong recommendation” against flights to Tel Aviv, retracted its warning later in the day.

Following the American and European flight approvals, US Airways and United Airlines had decided to resume their flights and had informed the IAA that they would be landing planes on Friday at Ben Gurion to take off on Saturday morning. Delta Airlines also decided to renew flights, as did Air Berlin, Al Italia, Meridian, Air Mediterranee, Nios, Air Iberia, Niki, EasyJet, Veiling, Mistrel, Air Canada and FedEx, the IAA said.

As of the early evening, flights to and from Turkey, however, had not been renewed, according to the IAA.

Since the FAA ban on Tuesday, which followed the first successful Hamas rocket landing within the vicinity of the airport, hundreds of flights were canceled, and thousands of travelers stranded.

Israel lobbied heavily for the US to lift the restriction, which politicians called a victory for Hamas and terrorism. The FAA said it took into account “significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation,” before making its decision, but stressed that its primary goad was to protect passenger on US airlines.

According to certain reports (h/t DavidinPT via The Muqata’s twitter feed) it wasn’t just, or even only, Israel’s “significant new security measures” that enabled the FAA ban to be lifted. Rather it was a threat by Israel to significantly ramp up its onslaught on Gaza in order to put an immediate end to the rocket threat that was the cause of the ban in the first place:

Israel reportedly told the United States that it understands the rules and the reasoning behind the FAA ban on US flights to Israel, according to Arad Nir of Israel Channel 2.

Israel reportedly told the US that this situation (of the FAA ban) can’t continue, so in order to resolve it, Israel will need to significantly and disproportionately ramp up its attack on Gaza, and put an immediate stop to all the rocket attacks, thus allowing US flight to Israel to resume.

Nir claims the message was understood and the FAA ban was rescinded.

I really hope this story is true. I love the subtle menace in that message. It matches the similar hidden threat behind the US’s flight ban. The Americans can’t complain either. If the ostensible reason was the rocket fire, then it’s only reasonable that Israel should want to bring the rocket fire to an end as quickly as possible and damn the consequences.

The “rescue” put on by El Al wasn’t all rosy however as the JPost report continues:

Though El Al and Arkia added capacity and new flights during the flight ban, Israeli customers were incensed by the high prices they were charging for tickets at a time of crisis, when so many people were stranded abroad. State Comptroller Joseph Shapira on Thursday said it would look into price gouging allegations in the incident.

The Tourism Ministry convened a meeting with the Finance Ministry to discuss potential damage to Israel’s tourist industry, which it feared could take a long-term hit as the operation drags on.

There were additional complications for Israeli tourists stranded in Turkey, since Turkey extended its flight ban until July 31st, and yet will not allow El Al to land at its airports in order to airlift Israeli passengers out.

I do feel sorry for those Israeli passengers, but honestly, what on earth were they doing going to Turkey in the first place? It is the most hostile country to Israelis outside of the Arab world. Why would any Israeli take a chance in travelling to that country unless for unavoidable business?

Moving on to the tragic bombing of a Gaza school in which 15 civilians died, first – the facts from the Times of Israel:

…15 civilians were killed and as many as 200 more were wounded Thursday afternoon in the bombardment of a UN school – an assault that both sides claim might well be the fault of the other.

“We can confirm that [Palestinian] terror rockets that were fired from that area landed in the neighborhood of the UN facility,” said Cap. Eytan Buchman of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, asserting that the death and destruction may have been caused by errant rockets fired by Hamas or another militant organization.

The veteran Arab affairs analyst on Israeli Channel 2 news went one step further. There were nine mortar shells fired from the area of the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun, Ehud Ya’ari said, “and one hit the school.”

UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness seemed to confirm that Hamas projectiles were fired in the area, writing on twitter that it’s “being reported there were Hamas rockets falling in Beit Hanoun today.”

A Hamas statement in a Ma’an news article called the attack on the school an “ugly crime” for which the Israelis “will pay.”

Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA, told Al Jazeera that the location of the facility “was conveyed to the Israelis,” and that the school was “monitored [to ensure] that our neutrality was maintained.”

Last week in Gaza, 20 rockets belonging to one of the terror groups were found in an UNRWA school, a development that the organization said in a statement was a “flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law.”

Gaza Division commander Brig. Gen. Miki Edelstein said in a conference call with reporters that he was not yet familiar with the details of the incident, but that “we do not act against NGO facilities with no warning.”

“If,” he said, “if something happened, it is by mistake and not any other issue.”

A senior intelligence officer later confirmed that there had been Palestinian rocket fire from the area “very close to the school.” He added that “Israel could attack 10 times more Hamas activists” than it has thus far. But the reason it has held back, he said, striking “only one out of 10, is because they are hiding below, or very, very near, civilians.”

Israel Matzav notes that Hamas gunmen were shooting from the school:

Earlier today, UNRWA claimed that the IDF had fired on one of its schools in Beit Hanoun, which was being used to shelter civilians. Later, the IDF said it was investigating the incident, and still later it was reported that it was Hamas that shot the shells. Now, the IDF has investigated and concluded that terrorists fired from around the school and that the IDF returned fire.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said on Thursday night that an initial investigation into the shelling of a UN-run school in Gaza – which left at least fifteen dead, and dozens wounded – found that terrorists had opened fire from the vicinity of the school, and that the army returned fire.

At the same time, Hamas fired in the general direction of the school, the army said. Civilians in the school were asked to vacate the area, but refused, the army added.

The Elder of Ziyon also analysed the school bombing. He shows how a simple tweet of a rumour spread like wildfire until it became “fact” and made the headlines of major media outlets. Thus is Israel defamed before the truth has had a chance to put its boots on.

The Elder continues:

I had written  at the outset of this war that the number one mistake reporters were likely to make is assuming that all Gaza casualties are the result of Israeli fire.

And that is exactly what happened.

As usual, the IDF was slow to respond. And they still have not responded definitively. But here’s what we know so far from them, facts that Chris Gunness and Hamas are unlikely to admit:

Screenshot of IDF Spokesman's Twitter feed

Screenshot of IDF Spokesman’s Twitter feed

So either someone fired from the school and the IDF responded – unlikely, based on how careful the IDF was to ensure the Wafa hospital was empty before firing at it – or Hamas rockets hit the school, killing the innocent, or there was a mistake on Israel’s side with an “errant shell.”

Whatever the truth is, to make a blanket assumption that Israel is at fault is not reporting, but advocacy.

The media across the board assumed that this was an Israeli strike, based on sources known to lie and to be consistently biased.

I tweeted these questions out to the world.

If it wasn’t an airstrike, why does the media think it is more likely that Israel shelled a UNRWA school than Hamas? Is it more inconceivable that Hamas would attack its own people than Israel deliberately attacking civilians? Who gains from such an action?

The only explanation for the headlines is that, to the world media, Israel is a bloodthirsty nation.

The logic is sickening.

If the media was remotely objective, there is no way that they would assume that the IDF had fired those shells.  On the contrary, they would have been asking these questions of Chris Gunness within minutes of his first tweet, instead of slavishly retweeting it themselves (as many did.)

The IDF isn’t perfect, but if the IDF was as bloodthirsty as the headlines imply, then Gaza would have 70,000 dead by now, not 700.

There is no objectivity here. The a priori assumption of IDF guilt is evidence that the media truly thinks that the IDF is a sickeningly depraved army, the exact opposite of what has been seen over and over again even during this conflict (for those who care about the truth.)

Assuming that the IDF is morally depraved and at the same time not even entertaining the idea that Hamas, which brags that it targets civilians, could be behind this incident is proof positive that it is the media that is depraved and immoral. 

The Elder of Ziyon nails it absolutely.

No doubt the international media and the anti-Israel NGO’s, not to mention the UN with all its institutions, will be dancing on this Gazan blood for months to come. Watch out for Goldstone II and III.

But we Israelis can rest assured that if it was by some terrible chance the fault of the IDF, it was done in error and only after strenuous efforts were made to save those Gazans’ lives by asking them to evacuate.

If any other proof were necessary, the Elder of Ziyon also brings to our attention that Hamas was shelling the field hospital set up by the IDF to treat wounded Gazans!

So much for their intense concern for the Gazans’ well-being.  I didn’t notice this story splashed all over the mainstream media though. Did you?

On the diplomatic front, PM Netanyahu spoke eloquently to the British Foreign Minister Phillip Hammond who arrived on a short visit, and compared Israel’s situation to Britain during the Blitz:

Both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman drew parallels during meetings Thursday with visiting British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond between Israel fighting Hamas and Britain battling the Nazis.

Netanyahu, after meeting Hammond who has been in office only nine days, said that considering its experience in World War II, Britain has a historical understanding of what Israel is undergoing.

“There has only been one other instance where a democracy has been rocketed and pelleted with these projectiles of death, and that’s Britain during World War II,” Netanyahu said.

Hammond said that Britain has been very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself, but is “gravely concerned by the ongoing heavy level of civilian casualties.”

Netanyahu assured Hammond that Israel was doing “its best” to limit civilian casualties. “All the civilian deaths there, and we regret every one of them, are the responsibility of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad,” he said.

While using human shields is “grotesque,” Netanyahu said, “what is equally grotesque is that Israel was condemned by the [UN] Human Rights Council.” Although a “travesty of justice and truth,” he said, it will “not prevent us from continuing to act to defend our people.”

Netanyahu thanked British Prime Minister David Cameron for “standing up for Israel’s right to defend itself.”  And he also noted positively that British Airways continued to fly to Israel, even as the US airliners and some other airlines from around Europe and the world temporarily stopped their flights. He thanked Britain for its “moral focus and moral clarity,” and said “we will need it in the days ahead.

Reuven (Ruvy) Rivlin takes the oath as new President of Israel

Reuven (Ruvy) Rivlin takes the oath as new President of Israel

The happiest event of the day was the swearing-in ceremony of Reuven Rivlin as the new President of Israel, in place of Shimon Peres who steps down after 7 years:

Wearing a kippa with the text “I will raise Jerusalem above my foremost joy” – given to him by a Holocaust survivor – Rivlin said the Sheheheyanu blessing for special occasions.

The inauguration was a ray of light in a difficult time, despite Rivlin and Edelstein’s decision to cancel the cocktail party and music that usually follow such events.

During the ceremony, air raid sirens went off in eight areas in the South, while southern mayors, who were invited to the Knesset in honor of their residents’ resilience, sat in the plenum.

Rivlin, Edelstein and outgoing President Shimon Peres all paid tribute to soldiers taking part in Operation Protective Edge and sent condolences to families of the fallen.

Edelstein opened the ceremony with a prayer for IDF soldiers.

l to r: Incoming President Reuven Rivlin; Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein; Outgoing President Shimon Peres

In Rivlin’s first speech to the nation as president, he said the inauguration was taking place as scheduled “not solely in the name of the law, but to deliver a clear message to our enemies – you cannot and will not defeat us. We are determined to protect the pillars of our regime, as well as the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, even in time of war, against terrorism.

“The Jewish nation has proven its stamina. For 2,000 years we waited to return to our homeland, and today we are safely ensconced here.

“A day will come when the darkness of terrorism will be eradicated from the land. A day will come when we will live here in tranquility and peace, side by side. A day will come when peace will be established between Israel and all its neighbors.

“Today, just as before, even in a time of turbulence and pain, we refuse to abandon our cause; we do not give up the hope to build here the society we dreamed of,” he said.

“Long live the State of Israel!” Rivlin concluded, in tears, and was given a standing ovation.

I think Rivlin will be a very fitting and successful President. We wish him Mazal Tov and much success in his new role.

Peres took a hard line on Hamas in his last speech as president, while expressing hope for peace with the Palestinians in the future.

Peres expressed surprise that “even this time, after we were hit by missiles meant to hurt civilians…after we exposed murderous hidden tunnels used to enter the heart of our towns and rain fire on mothers and children, we would still have to warn the world of the dangers of insane terrorism.

“Terrorism wants to spill our blood and leads to blood flowing in the streets of its people,” he said. “Hamas put hundreds of thousands of Gazans on the war front. They turned Gaza, after over 3,000 years of history, into a man-made tragedy…They forced their children to serve as shields and sent them to burn.”

Peres said farewell to the presidency: “I am leaving my job without leaving behind my deep faith that Israel is a model country.

We are a nation that experienced endless suffering and we are a nation that reached lofty heights.”

“Next to [first prime minister David] Ben-Gurion I saw [Israel] fighting for its life with few resources and endless dangers.

Today I see it [as] strong, safe, blooming, growing in every area.

I see my land promising a great future for its sons and daughters,” he said.

Peres thanked the nation for giving him the privilege to serve them.

“I love you all. Thank you from the depths of my heart,” he said.

Rivlin and Edelstein paid tribute to Peres’s decades of service to the country in their speeches.

Then, as the baton of the presidency was passed from Peres to Rivlin, Edelstein recited the prayer for the changing of the guard at the Holy Temple: “May love, brotherhood, peace and friendship dwell among us.”

I watched the ceremony on TV and to my surprise I found it fascinating and very moving. We can be proud of our country that can manage to hold such an important event with dignity and the just right amount of celebration in light of the war we are in. Kol hakavod to all the organizers, the Knesset, and yes, even to the politicians.

And to close today’s roundup, here’s a summary of today’s other incidents plus some later updates:

There was sporadic rocket fire on the south and center of the country during the day, and late tonight a rocket on Eilat – maybe aiming for Ovda Airport?

Hamas members surrender to the IDF

The IDF’s summary of Thursday’s events:

Since the beginning of the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge, IDF soldiers have uncovered 31 tunnels used for terror, 11 of which were subsequently destroyed by IDF forces. Throughout the morning, the IDF has targeted approximately 90 terror activity sites in Gaza. Among them were concealed rocket launchers and surveillance posts.

In the early morning hours, IDF soldiers detained 2 militants who were identified emerging from an access shaft of a tunnel used for terror.

In a separate incident, soldiers identified a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt in the southern Gaza Strip. The soldiers fired at him, confirming the threat neutralized. Subsequently, the force located 2 tunnel access shafts adjacent to the scene.

Attached is a map specifying the locations of several of the tunnels uncovered by IDF soldiers in the Gaza Strip during the course of Operation Protective Edge.

Later on, armored forces identified a squad of armed militants and fired at their direction, confirming a hit.

A map of attack tunnels in Gaza provided by the IDF

Additionally, 150 Hamas members surrendered to the IDF and were taken to Israel for questioning. About half of them were later released.

Palestinians carry a mock rocket at riots in Kalandia, near Jerusalem

The day ended with huge Palestinian protests in and around Jerusalem, with two Palestinians killed:

Violence broke out Thursday night near the Kalandia checkpoint, located in the West Bank between Jerusalem and Ramallah, as residents of the West Bank village clashed with police in protests against the IDF’s operation in the Gaza Strip.

Some 10,000 Palestinians protested near the checkpoint, throwing rocks, firebombs and fireworks at Israeli security forces, and setting tires ablaze. The IDF forces and Border Police were using crowd dispersal means on the masses.

Palestinian riots in Jerusalem

According to the Palestinian reports, two demonstrators were killed by Israeli security forces and dozens wounded. Thirteen Israeli police officers were lightly injured.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office did not confirm the Palestinian casualties. The military was checking reports of live fire targeting Israeli forces at the checkpoint.

The protest erupted after allies of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement marched from the West Bank city of Ramallah to the edges of Jerusalem in protest against Israel’s 17-day-old campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza.

Police so far arrested 39 Arab suspects during the protests.

Earlier on Thursday, Israel Police arrested nine suspects in east Jerusalem, for disrupting the peace and attacking police officers, near the Old City. The police said it used crowd dispersal methods to restore order.

At the same time, near the Temple Mount, dozens of east Jerusalem residents threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police forces. The police said said they have arrested 10 suspects, and that two police officers were lightly injured during the clash.

As police prepared for Friday prayers, they planed to heighten security in the Old City and throughout Jerusalem, as Operation Protective Edge enters its third week, fueling already heightened tensions between Arabs and Jews in the capital.

Citing anonymous threats of Arab rioting expected near Damascus Gate, National Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Thursday that hundreds of officers will be on hand near the east Jerusalem entrance Friday to ensure no incidents take place.

“Police are making preparations for the thousands of people expected to the Old City to pray during Ramadan,” he said. “We have received information that there will be disturbances, so we are leaving nothing to chance to ensure the safety of residents.”

To that end, Rosenfeld said no Arabs under 50-years-old will be permitted to enter Damascus Gate, and undercover teams and various other elite units will blanket the area to respond immediately to any violence.

Since the brutal revenge murder of Mohammed Abu Khedeir earlier this month, several communities in east Jerusalem, have been embroiled in rioting, resulting in dozens of arrests and the destruction of municipal property, including two light rail stations.

Let us hope that tomorrow will be calmer and will bring better news.

May Hashem protect our soldiers and watch over all of us.

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments