I usually try to post only good news on Fridays, but I feel the following items need to be posted today and not wait till after Shabbat.
Yesterday we learned that the Israel police uncovered a massive weapons cache headed for the Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, hidden in a box of Christmas decorations:
A massive amount of fireworks, knives and Tasers police believe were meant in part to be used by rioters clashing with police were seized last week by Jerusalem District detectives and officers from the Tax Authority and the Ashdod Port Customs, police announced on Thursday.
Police said the seizure came after Jerusalem detectives ran an undercover investigation along with the tax and customs officials, during which they were able to track and seize two shipping containers which came to Ashdod by way of China. The fireworks were hidden among Christmas decorations inside the containers, which were intended for Arab residents of the largely Christian east Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.
Last Tuesday, three of the suspects arrived at the Ashdod Port and claimed the containers, and then drove with them on trailers to a storehouse in Afula, where they planned to unload the merchandise. They were then arrested at the spot before unloading the containers, as was the owner of the storehouse.
Inside the containers police said they found 18,000 fireworks of the restricted 20mm variety, as well as 5,200 commando knives, 4,300 flashlights that can be modified into improvised Tasers, 5,500 Tasers, and 1,000 swords.
Fireworks have become a highly popular tool of rioters facing off with police and soldiers during riots in the Arab sector, in particular in East Jerusalem. The firecrackers, including large roman candles, are pointed horizontally towards police and soldiers and fired like ammunition. Some of the larger gauge fireworks can penetrate police protective gear at close range, including their plastic shields. All can cause severe burns and if some of the larger ones hit on the right spot, such as the neck, they can potentially be fatal.
Just to remind you what fireworks sound like when used as a weapon instead of as a pretty, if noisy, method of entertainment, here’s a video I posted earlier this week of Arabs shooting fireworks at Jewish homes in Jerusalem:
The good news in this story of course is the fact that this weapons cache was discovered. The bad news is that it seems to have been discovered by accident, and who knows how many other shipments have already made it to Jerusalem, or are still en route?
Today we read that Israel has arrested dozens of members of a huge Hamas terrorist network operating throughout Judea and Samaria (aka the “West Bank” for short) – and commanded from our old “friends” Turkey!
Israel has arrested dozens of members of a Hamas terror network operating throughout the West Bank in recent weeks who were planning a series of attacks against Israeli targets, senior Palestinian officials told The Times of Israel. The network, they said, was funded and directed by Hamas officials in Turkey who have set up a de facto command center in the Muslim country.
The network was similar in its operational characteristics to one uncovered in August during the war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the officials said Thursday night, adding that according to information received from Israel, this one was even larger. Its operatives had already attempted several attacks against Israel, they added, but they had all failed.
As with the previous network, the man behind the terrorist grouping was Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas leader who was deported from the West Bank to Turkey in 2010, the sources said.
The officials accused Turkey as well as Qatar — the current home of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal — of enabling Hamas to operate freely within their territories to carry out attacks against Israel and undermine the Palestinian Authority.
The involvement of Turkey, if only as a passive host of this dangerous terrorist, should come as no surprise as their Prime Minister President Erdogan has been relentlessly ratcheting up the anti-Israel rhetoric for years. It is long past time that Turkey, but in particular Erdogan himself, is held to account internationally for his incitement and his aiding and abetting of terror.
The above article contains another piece of goodish news:
On Thursday the Shin Bet said it foiled a Palestinian plan to assassinate Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman during the summer war. A group of Hamas members from near Bethlehem in the West Bank planned to purchase a rocket-propelled grenade, which would be shot at Liberman, who lives in an Israeli settlement in the area.
The group gathered intelligence on Liberman’s convoy to carry out the attack, according to the Shin Bet, and turned to Hamas officials in the area for help in acquiring the RPG. Israeli officials said they also uncovered during the interrogations Hamas plans to fire weapons and carry out hit-and-run attacks against settlers and Israeli troops in the area.
One’s blood runs cold when one thinks of what might have been.
With all that’s going on in Jerusalem, Gaza has dropped off the radar recently. But Hamas remain as dangerous as ever. This week the IDF identified 4 test-launches of missiles into the sea:
For the fourth time in 24 hours a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip into the Mediterranean Sea, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said.
This suggests that “Gaza terrorists are experimenting in order to increase rocket-launching capabilities,” the army said.
Navy officials have said that Hamas fires rockets into the sea every few days as part of an ongoing project to upgrade their weapons. The launches are meant to test a number of projectile models.
On a number of occasions last month, Color Red rocket-warning sirens went off in Gaza border communities, sending residents fleeing for shelter for the first time since the end of the summer’s 50-day war with Hamas.
Besides the 4 this week, the terrorists have launched at least 14 test missiles in the last 2 months.
According to Palestinian sources, rocket tests have been going on over the past two months with at least 14 rockets launched in that time.
Residents of Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip reported numerous rocket alarms and explosions in recent weeks, all of which were later declared to have been false alarm by the authorities.
While sources in the defense establishment believe that “Hamas was sufficiently deterred by Israel after the summer’s operation and is unlikely to renew hostilities in the near future,” according to ynet, it seems that less than three months after the end of Operation Protective Edge Hamas has successfully repaired its infrastructure and has begaun preparations for a new round of hostilities.
We in Israel have to be prepared both physically and psychologically for a long drawn-out war, as well as preparing the informational, diplomatic and political battlefields.