IDF Blog: IDF Thwarts Hamas Attempt to Renew Old Terror Tunnel
Last night, March 17, the IDF thwarted an attempt by Hamas to renew an old terror tunnel directed towards the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Israel. The IDF has been monitoring the situation and was able to neutralize the tunnel without any casualties whatsoever. All activity took place within Israeli territory. Currently, there’s no immediate threat towards the Kerem Shalom crossing and nearby areas.
This is one of the first times Hamas tried to reuse an old terror tunnel. Hamas attempted to reuse an old tunnel that was discovered in 2014 by building a new one nearby, with the intention to link them together and thereby render the old one usable again. The IDF was able to thwart the attempts to link up with the old terror tunnel before the new one was able to penetrate into Israeli territory.
The tunnel was discovered as part of the operational, intelligence, and technological efforts to locate and neutralize terror tunnels, which has been ongoing since Operation ‘Protective Edge,’ and has been intensified in the past six months.
In response, the IDF has targeted military complexes in the Gaza Strip belonging to Hamas. This was in response to last night’s discovery in addition to the IED that exploded yesterday adjacent to the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip.
The IDF is not looking for any escalation. All efforts made last night on behalf of the IDF, like always, are done so in order to defend Israel’s sovereignty and keep innocent civilians safe. On the other hand, Hamas invests significant amounts of money, resources, and people in building terror tunnels, and is now attempting to turn the security fence into a new area of friction, instead of using funds and efforts to contribute to the well-being of Gazan civilians.
Overnight, the IDF thwarted an attempt of the Hamas terror organization to renew an offensive terror tunnel in the Kerem Shalom area in southern Israel pic.twitter.com/4DOYxeMSV3
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) March 18, 2018
As part of the efforts to locate and neutralize terror tunnels, which has been ongoing since Operation ‘Protective Edge’ and has been intensified in the past six months, the attempt to renew an old Hamas terror tunnel was identified at an early phase pic.twitter.com/BnYYLyrbeI
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) March 18, 2018
The tunnel was neutralized tonight by an engineering action led by the IDF Southern Command operating within Israeli territory to protect its civilians and sovereignty. The IDF does not wish to escalate the situation, but we stand ready and prepared for a variety of scenarios pic.twitter.com/iGqrLMV79O
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) March 18, 2018
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the international community that its aid money to the Gaza Strip was being used by terror groups to build tunnels for attacking Israel, hours after the military said it had destroyed two such passages.
“It is time for the international community to recognize that the Gaza aid money is being buried underground,” he added, addressing recent attempts at the UN to raise funds for Gaza, which is facing a severe humanitarian crisis.
The comment came as donor countries and others have worked to raise money for the beleaguered Strip, which UN officials say is facing a crippling shortage of clean water among other ills.
Sunday’s tunnel demolitions took place as tensions between Israel and terror groups in the Palestinian enclave have risen in recent weeks after a number of bombs exploded near IDF patrols along the border, sparking reprisal attacks.
“Our policy is to take determined action against any attempt to harm us and to systematically eliminate the terror tunnel infrastructure, and we shall continue to do so,” Netanyahu said.
JPost Editorial: Stop the race
Of all the flaws of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, perhaps the most glaring was the danger it would set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
Proponents of the nuclear deal, such as former US president Barack Obama, insisted that it would not weaken nonproliferation efforts in the region. But none of them was able to answer a simple question: If Iran can enrich uranium now and go even farther in the next decade, why can’t other countries in the Middle East? What makes Iran so special? This is a country responsible for the deaths of US soldiers in Iraq, a supporter of terrorist organizations in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip, an aggressor that has vowed to “wipe Israel off the map” and that is now entrenching itself in Syria.
By awarding Iran, instead of punishing it, the nuclear deal encourages Iranian aggression. And Iran’s enemies will not stand idly by while it prepares for nuclear capability.
Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman raised the specter of a nuclear arms race breaking out in the Middle East in a rare interview with a US news outlet. Asked by CBS’s Norah O’Donnell whether Saudi Arabia needs nuclear weapons to counter Iran, Muhammad said that if Iran were to develop nuclear bombs, “we would follow suit immediately.”
The prince also compared Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Hitler. “Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don’t want to see the same events happening the Middle East.”
The full interview is scheduled to air Sunday on 60 Minutes.
President Trump has amazingly managed to cut through 100 years of Arab-Jewish antagonism by hosting a conference at the White House on 13 March with representatives from 20 countries – including Israel and seven Arab states (“Conference”).
Ostensibly called to discuss solutions to the worsening humanitarian and economic conditions in Gaza – this Conference also has very significant ramifications for Trump’s soon-to-be-released proposals to end the 100 years-old Arab-Jewish conflict.
Convened by White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and members of the National Security Council (NSC) staff and the Department of State – the Conference was attended by representatives from the United Nations, the European Union, the Office of the Quartet, and the following countries: Bahrain, Canada, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
Shamefully the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) claiming to be the sole spokesperson for the Gazan Arabs since 1974 – could not set aside its enmity for Trump to attend this truly-international Conference designed to relieve the hell-hole that Gaza has become since Israel’s unilateral Disengagement in 2005.
PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas could well rue his decision to boycott this Conference following his virulent reaction to Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US Embassy there in May on the occasion of Israel’s 70th anniversary.
A Soviet general behind the development of a deadly nerve agent suspected of being used in a poisoning attack last week in the UK had raised concerns in Israel in the 1990s. The Jewish state was worried that he was trying to sell his knowledge to Syria, and he later died in mysterious circumstances, according to a report published Friday.
The general, Anatoly Kuntsevich, described as a leading chemical weapons expert, had led the development of a highly potent Soviet-designed nerve agent called Novichok, which Britain says was used on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter on March 4.
Amid the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kuntsevich began trying to sell his knowledge to the Syrians, according a report in the Ynet news site by Israeli journalist and author Ronen Bergman, whose “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,” was published earlier this year.
“It would seem that his business with the Syrians was not a government initiative but rather an attempt by him to look after his own interests,” Bergman wrote, saying that Kuntsevich received “huge sums of money.”
Israel repeatedly warned Moscow, but to no avail. “It was believed that [Russian president Boris] Yeltsin either could not, or did not want, to intervene,” the report said.
Bergman cites the book “The Volunteer,” which was published in Canada by Michael Ross, in which he claimed to be a Mossad agent and said he was repeatedly dispatched to warn senior Russian officials about Kuntsevich’s activities. Again, without any results.
Under Israeli pressure, the Czech Republic has begun examining the practical implications of moving its embassy to Jerusalem, Channel 10 reported on Saturday.
In a classified cable written to the Foreign Ministry last week, Israel’s Ambassador to Prague Daniel Meron credited Jerusalem’s diplomatic efforts for developments on the issue in the Czech Republic, which “has begun a quiet internal staff evaluation to examine the possibilities and risks regarding the transfer of its embassy.”
Meron wrote that Israeli pressure following decisions from the US and Guatemala to move their respective embassies to Jerusalem have made the Czech Republic more open to following suit.
However, the decision will ultimately be made by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is seen as particularly risk averse.
“At the same time, the prime minister is very influenced by public opinion, which is well-known to be pro-Israel,” Meron wrote, adding that it was crucial for Jerusalem to continue its public outreach in Prague to cement that support.
Here’s a story that seems to have flown under the radar, being mentioned only in the African press: former Kenyan president Daniel Arap Moi was just in Israel for medical checks at Ichalov Hospital.
According to reports, he also managed to tour Jerusalem.
This news is of interest, because it seems to reaffirm just how good relations are between Israel and Kenya. Perhaps Kenya’s absence at the recent UN resolution vote declaring the status of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as “null and void” was a reflection of how Israel’s Africa policy is slowly having an effect.
The Hamas terror group which rules the Gaza Strip responded to the destruction of two tunnels by the IDF on Sunday by downplaying one of them as an old tunnel that hadn’t been used for years, and by saying Israel would bear the consequences for the escalation of tensions.
The tunnel demolitions came as tensions between Israel and terror groups in the Palestinian enclave have risen in recent weeks after a number of bombs exploded near IDF patrols along the border, sparking reprisal attacks.
“The tunnel claimed to have been unearthed is an old unused tunnel,” said a spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, adding that it had already been hit after it was used to blow up an IDF outpost during the 2014 Gaza War.
“The announcement of the tunnel discovery is a new attempt at misdirection and an attempt to sell an illusion of power and fake victories to the Israeli public and the international community.”
However, the Hamas response didn’t refer directly to the bombing of the tunnel.
Police decided to reinforce security around Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan after Hamas terrorists distributed a video showing Dagan’s home in the community of Shavei Shomron.
In the video, other places in the community considered important by Hamas were also also marked: the home of the community rabbi, the synagogue and the community clinic.
Police decided not to take any risks and reinforced security around Dagan’s home, including deployment of security cameras and other protective devices.
It was also decided to reinforce community patrols near the house and the synagogue, and to carry out more searches in these areas.
“I am no different from any other citizen of Israel,” Dagan told his associates. “We are Jews and Israelis, believers, determined people who stand tall. Threats won’t break us. We will build the land of Israel with all of our strength. I am acting in coordination with security forces and police, and trust them.”
A security guard was severely wounded in a stabbing attack in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday.
The attacker was shot and allegedly killed. Israel’s Shin Bet Security Agency said that the attacker was from the West Bank, although earlier reports from Israel’s Channel 10 television stated that Turkish identity papers were found on the body of the alleged assailant.
United Hatzalah volunteer EMS first responders treated two people injured in the attack.
Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service said one person was stabbed in the upper body and was in critical condition. The victim has been evacuated to Shaare Zedek hospital for treatment. An Israeli police spokesman confirmed the attack, near the Western Wall, and said the assailant was “neutralized” but gave no further details.
A gag order was put in place regarding further details on the investigation into the attack.
Emergency services rush the victim of a March 18, 2018 stabbing attack in Jerusalem to the hospital (Reuters)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said following the attack, “I praise the police officer who quickly responded, killed the attacker and prevented more injuries. The Israel Police will keep acting against the bloody terrorists, who are incited by the Palestinian Authority – in Israel, and throughout the country,” he said.
Israeli forces on Sunday, after an extensive manhunt, arrested a suspected terrorist who is believed to have stabbed to death Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal near Ariel in February, the Shin Bet security service said.
On February 5, 19-year-old Abed al-Karim Assi, an Israeli citizen, is believed to have attacked Ben-Gal, 29, at a bus stop outside Ariel, a West Bank settlement.
Assi fled the scene, leading security forces on a month-long manhunt that ended with his arrest in the predawn hours of Sunday in the West Bank city of Nablus, the Shin Bet said.
The security service said he was found inside a house in the city.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, Assi was injured during the early morning arrest raid and received treatment from army medics. The military would not elaborate on how he sustained his wounds.
“The arrest was carried out by the Shin Bet, Israel Police Special Patrol Unit and Israel Defense Forces. It was the culmination of extensive efforts since the terror attack, during which a number of accomplices, who are suspected of either helping [Assi] or knowing his whereabouts, were interrogated,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
Syrian Human Rights Activist: 9/11 Fabricated from Beginning to End by the Mossad and CIA
Haitham Al-Maleh, Head of the legal department of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, said in a recent TV interview that the 9/11 terror attack had nothing to do with Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda and that it was carried out “by the Israeli Mossad and the U.S. intelligence.” Speaking on Turkey’s Channel 9 TV on February 5, Al-Maleh said that “the Jews – including one of the owners of the towers, who had an office there – did not show up on the day of the event,” that 9/11 was “fabricated from beginning to end,” and that “the goal was to get the insurance money for the towers.” Both Al-Qaeda and ISIS were Western creations, he said, “in order to justify their intervention in the region.” Al-Maleh is a former judge and the served as the head of the Human Rights Association in Syria between 2001 and 2006.
Hen Mazzig: ‘Shtetlizing’ our students
San Francisco State University is perhaps one of the worst schools for Jewish students in North America. There have been numerous antisemitic incidents there, from public calls to murder Israelis by a university student, to antisemitic graffiti “Zionists not welcomed”, to the most recent event in which the university president refused to say in an interview that Zionists were welcome on his campus, only to apologize later.
Members of the campus anti-Israel group, which includes both students and professors, named the president’s apology a “declaration of war.” They further responded to the university president’s apology by vandalizing school buildings with “Zionism = Racism” and “Zionists are not allowed on our campus.”
This was the snake’s nest I walked into last week when I spoke at SFSU, after the Israel student group I-Team invited me through CAMERA on campus.
I definitely expected pushback from the anti-Israel group on campus, but I couldn’t have predicted the other roadblocks I faced. As I arrived at the facility for Jewish students, where my talk was supposed to take place, I was greeted by two passionate and motivated Jewish students who spoke to me about how bad their campus atmosphere had become. They also told me about the restrictions that this campus Jewish center had implemented in the past year. The leadership of the Jewish center had requested that there be “no Israeli flags” on campus (according to their Facebook page, the last time an Israeli flag had been shown on campus was four years ago) and stated that students “better not to hand out flyers about the event so we won’t get protests.”
When I told the Jewish center’s staff that I wanted to head to campus and engage in conversation with students, I was called to the office of the Jewish center’s director. It was more like an ambush. The director and his two senior staff members told me how the students were “not ready” to deal with hard questions about Israel, and how they can’t and shouldn’t fight back. The director told me that I shouldn’t go to the campus because it might create a provocation. I told the director how I had been attacked in the past, and that such things didn’t worry me. Moreover I reminded him that I was here for the students, and would go with them to the campus if that’s what they wanted.
As I heard the Jewish professionals speak, all I could think about was how on earth did we get here? This is my own community, and I couldn’t be more disgusted and ashamed. Anti-Israel groups have been trying to shut me up for years, but now the pushback was coming from my own.
The GroenLinks and PvdA factions in Rotterdam pulled out of a left-wing alliance in the city over a tweet by Islam inspired party Nida in 2014. In the tweet Nida links Israel and Zionism to terrorist organization ISIS.
The left-wing parties in Rotterdam – GroenLinks, PvdA, SP and Nida – teamed up in the Links Verbond in the run-up to the municipal elections next week. They wanted to offer an alternative to right-wing policy.
The Nida tweet, which resurfaced in the media on Sunday, sparked crisis negotiations between the four parties, after which GroenLinks and the PvdA decided to withdraw from the alliance, RTL Nieuws reports.
“Contrary to what we agreed, Nida does not distance itself sufficiently from the objectionable tweet from 2014. I no longer have confidence in Nida’s position. As far as I am concerned, there is no longer a place for Nida in our alliance”, GroenLinks leader in Rotterdam Judith Bokhove said on Twitter.
Barbara Kathmann, PvdA leader in Rotterdam, said: “It seemed that we would get through it together. But in the end I found that the cooperation is not there now.”
A prominent US-based film critic recently attributed slumping ticket sales to concerts by the pop star Lorde to her decision to bow to pressure from anti-Israel organizations and cancel a show in Israel.
Film pundit Roger Friedman alleged in a recent column that Lorde’s recent concert tour was turning into a commercial flop. “Tonight she’s playing the Gila River Arena in Arizona. There are huge chunks of seats empty. You can buy whole rows almost anywhere in the building,” wrote Friedman.
“Things get worse as you go through her tour schedule, particularly in the New York area. You don’t have to go to StubHub, either. Just check Ticketmaster,” continued Friedman. “For the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on April 4th, I was able to locate blocks of 24 seats together in almost every section. For other dates, it was possible to buy 8 seats together in dozens of locations.”
Friedman went on to blame Lorde’s slumping ticket sales for her open decision to boycott Israel and cancel a planned concert in Israel. “What turned everyone off to Lorde? I do think it’s tied to her boycott of Israel,” contended Friedman. “She decided not to play Tel Aviv on the advice of Roger Waters, who also boycotts Israel without realizing he’s instigating anti-Semitism.”
“Clearly, Lorde’s position on Israel has killed her tour.”
Friedman added that Lorde’s Israel decision was “a direct factor in her not being invited to sing solo on the Grammy Awards”.
Lorde had been scheduled to perform in Israel in June. In December however, she announced that she was canceling the show following criticism from pro-Palestinian Arab fans in her native New Zealand. Israeli concert organizers announced the cancellation and said ticket sales would be refunded.
Lorde later justified her decision, claiming it was the right one and adding, “I pride myself on being an informed young citizen, and I had done a lot of reading and sought a lot of opinions before deciding to book a show in Tel Aviv, but I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one. Tel Aviv, it’s been a dream of mine to visit this beautiful part of the world for many years, and I’m truly sorry to reverse my commitment to come play for you. I hope one day we can all dance.”
However, it’s especially troubling that Murray’s blog post was amplified in a March 15th piece in the Guardian, by their Defence Correspondent Ewan MacAskill, in an article questioning assertions by the British government that Russia was to blame for the attack in Salisbury.
The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray…is among those advocating scepticism about the UK placing blame on Russia.
In a blog post, he wrote: “The same people who assured you Saddam Hussein had WMDs now assure you Russian ‘novichok’ nerve agents are being wielded by Vladimir Putin to attack people on British soil.”
The Guardian correspondent’s selective quoting of Murray’s post omitted his central thesis: that Israel is likely responsible. Further his claims regarding Israel’s likely role in the attack was accompanied by broader libels. Murray, in the same post, accuses Israel of engaging in genocide against the Palestinians, and evokes the Livingston Formulation by suggesting that his views on Israeli culpability for the Salisbury attack won’t be publicized by the MSM because mere criticism of Israel is often falsely characterised as antisemitism.
By linking to Murray’s wild, completely unsubstantiated and incendiary charges, and uncritically citing it as grounds for readers to be skeptical of the government’s assessment, the Guardian has legitimised a full-out anti-Israel conspiracy theory – the kind of malign, obsessive and often delusional Israel root-cause explanations for international events which continues to fuel antisemitism in the UK.
Hamas had in fact called for a ‘Day of Rage’ rather than “protests” and the attack was also praised by additional Palestinian factions: the PIJ, the DFLP and the PFLP.
The report goes on:
“The US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but has infuriated Palestinians.
The declaration broke with decades of US neutrality on the issue and put it out of step with the rest of the international community.”
In fact, the US Congress of course voted to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital over two decades ago.
The BBC’s article closes with a quote from an AFP report:
“More than 30 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in violence since Mr Trump’s declaration, AFP reported.”
Once again, readers were not told how many of the Palestinians killed were engaged in terror attacks or violent rioting at the time and the BBC refrained from clarifying that a higher number of Israelis were murdered in terror attacks by Palestinians in the three months before the US president made his declaration than in the three months since.
I covered the video in this post, VIDEO: Disgusting Palestinian child exploitation for the cameras:
I have documented how some Palestinians, such as Bassem Tamimi, have created an industry of exploiting children for the cameras in a very dangerous way.
They have the children confront soldiers with the cameras rolling, hoping for a reaction and viral video or image. The video and images are crucial in the propaganda war on Israel.
Here is another example. A young child, maybe 3 years old, was photographed heroically confronting Israeli border police. It had all the hallmarks of a viral shot, tweeted by anti-Israel Twitter account Abbs Winston and retweeted by “Hamas Lawyer” Stanley Cohen and over 150 others:
But the image of the child is not what it seems.
I then went through the video frames to show what actually happened.
As part of my post I uploaded the video to YouTube and embedded it in the post so people could see for themselves.
The video on YouTube garnered over 900,000 views and over 1000 comments before YouTube disabled it:
The basis for the “strike” and takedown was that the video violated the policy on “violent or graphic content”:
Yet there is NO VIOLENCE in the video. NONE. To the contrary, the video shows the Israelis not being violent despite the provocation. There also are no graphic images of violence. Clearly, there was no violation of the policy.
The video was reported by someone trying to take it down. But YouTube supposedly reviews such reports. Either the reviewer was a mindless robot, or the reviewer was ideologically motivated. But there is no way a serious review could have resulted in the video being taken down under the policy on violent and graphic content, since there WAS NO VIOLENCE.
I tweeted out the problem to YouTube on Twitter, and actually received a response telling me to appeal:
You will know when the video is restored when the shadow image in this embed disappears and the original video is playable:
Hopefully YouTube will restore the video, though it has not done so as of this writing. Whether its a short-term takedown or long term strike, its a reminder that we now live at the mercy of sometimes mindless, sometimes ideologically-hostile internet oligopolies.
Update 3-18-2018: The video has been restored.
Wiring the world for Internet connectivity these days no longer requires wires. New connections – including superfast broadband – are more often delivered via satellite. And Petah Tikva-based Gilat Satellite Networks is one of the world leaders.
The company announced this week that it has signed up Hispasat to provide broadband commercial services in Mexico. With operations in Spain and Latin America, Hispasat distributes Spanish and Portuguese television content and provides satellite broadband services to governments, corporations and telecommunications operators.
The deal with Hispasat potentially will put tens of thousands of Gilat’s VSAT remote terminals across Mexico. The VSATs will communicate with the Amazonas-5 satellite.
The sale specifically includes Gilat’s SkyEdge II-c VSATs and central hub.
Gilat vice president Ron Levin added the SkyEdge II-c will “bring quality, plentiful and affordable broadband to unserved and underserved regions throughout Mexico.”
State-run carrier Air India said Friday it will begin flights to and from Israel over Saudi airspace from next week, in a move that ends a decades-long Saudi ban on the use of its airspace for flights to Israel.
The new route is being launched at a time of growing ties between India and several Middle Eastern countries, and after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at a diplomatic realignment in the region earlier this month.
“The Air India flights to Israel will start from March 22. The flights will take around seven hours and five minutes, and fly over… Saudi airspace,” airline spokesman Praveen Bhatnagar said.
The new service was first announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last July, with Netanyahu then suggesting in January the route could pass over Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh has no official ties with Tel Aviv, with Israel’s national carrier El Al forced to detour over the Red Sea on its India service to avoid Saudi and Iranian airspace.
Netanyahu told reporters in Washington earlier this month that Air India had reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia for the route.
One of the perks of being president of the State of Israel is that one gets to meet nearly all of the international who’s-who coming here – politicians, diplomats, sporting personalities, academics and stars from the world of entertainment.
Likewise, top names in all of these and other fields get to meet the president of the state, and sometimes the prime minister.
Among the latest in the list of personalities who have met with President Reuven Rivlin is Big Bang Theory star, actress, author, neuroscientist and social activist Mayim Bialik. She is currently in Israel as a guest of the Foreign Ministry, to participate in the international forum on combating antisemitism.
Bialik, whose name has also been mentioned as a possible torch lighter at the celebrations of Israel’s 70th anniversary of independence, met with Rivlin on Sunday. The president told her that he had heard a lot about her from his grandchildren.
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