September 29, 2020

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11/12 Links Pt1: Israeli special forces officer killed, another injured in Gaza raid; At Least 10 Israelis Wounded in Massive Gaza Rocket Barrage; Netanyahu says Israel ‘shielding’ Europe from terrorism

From Ian:

Israeli special forces officer killed, another injured in Gaza raid
An Israeli special forces officer was killed and another was moderately wounded during a night-time operation in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the army said. The incident sparked intense clashes between the Israeli military and the Hamas terror group.

At least seven Palestinian terrorists were killed in the firefight and airstrikes that followed the Israeli raid, including a senior Hamas commander, according to Palestinian officials. Six of the Palestinian fatalities were said by Hamas to be its members. The seventh was a member of the Nasser Salahdin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, Hamas said in a statement.

Israeli officials later indicated that the incident was an operation that went awry but not an assassination attempt.

The military censor barred news of the IDF officer’s death and the second officer’s injuries from being published for several hours until their families could be notified. The names of the soldiers were not immediately released.

The fighting set off a massive round of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and by morning 17 rockets or mortar shells were fired at southern Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced late Sunday he would cut short an official state visit to Paris and return to Israel immediately.

Israeli Fire Kills Seven During Undercover Raid in Gaza, IDF Officer Killed

Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in air strikes and an undercover raid that Hamas said targeted one of its commanders and the Israeli military said left one of its officers dead.

The Israeli incursion and air attacks drew rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled enclave, with sirens sounding in Israeli communities along the border. The military said its defenses intercepted two of the launches. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage on the Israeli side of the frontier.

The violence prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a visit to Paris, where he had been gathering with world leaders for a World War One commemoration.

Hamas said the incident began when assailants in a passing car opened fire on a group of its armed men, killing one of its commanders. Hamas gunmen gave chase as the car sped back towards the border with Israel, Hamas said in a statement.

During the pursuit, Israeli aircraft fired more than 40 missiles in the area, according to witnesses.

Medics and Hamas officials said at least seven people were killed, four of them militants, including Hamas commander Nour Baraka. It was unclear if the other fatalities included gunmen.

Thousands attend funeral for special forces officer killed in Gaza

Thousands gathered Monday for the funeral of an IDF special forces senior officer who was killed overnight during a covert operation in the Gaza Strip that ran into trouble and culminated in a fierce exchange of fire with Palestinian gunmen.

President Reuven Rivlin, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Communication Minister Ayoub Kara represented the government as the lieutenant colonel was laid to rest.

The soldier, 41, and identified in media only by the Hebrew initial “Mem,” was from a community in northern Israel. He was survived by his wife and two children.

“I came to thank and to salute a hero, on behalf of the entire State of Israel. The very best of our boys, whose memory will be forever engraved in our hearts,” Rivlin said. “Your pain is our pain, your grief is our grief. The grief of the whole people, the whole people of Israel.

“Mem was one of the bravest and most daring soldiers and commanders of the State of Israel and he fell defending the citizens of Israel, the children of Israel,” he added. “He lived the values he was brought up on: bravery, self-sacrifice, daring and determination, and that is how he died.”

In a eulogy, Bennett said the lieutenant colonel would go down in history “as one of the greatest Israeli heroes, alongside Yoni Netanyahu and Roi Klein.” He was referring to the brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was killed in the 1976 Israeli hostage rescue in Entebbe, and an Israeli soldier who jumped on a grenade in the 2006 Second Lebanon War to save his men.

Netanyahu: ‘The citizens of Israel owe an enormous debt to fallen soldier’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday offered his condolences to the family of the senior special forces officer who was killed overnight during an operation in the Gaza Strip that sparked hours of clashes.

“I bow my head in sadness at the loss of Lt. Col. Mem, a glorious fighter who fell during an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip,” the prime minister tweeted.

“The day will come when we can tell of all his valor. The citizens of Israel owe him an enormous debt.

“Our forces acted valiantly tonight. I salute Lt. Col. Mem, his family and his comrades in arms,” wrote Netanyahu.

Eisenkot: ‘Israel Owes Lt. Colonel M. More Than Can Be Said’

Hours after an IDF officer was killed in clashes between IDF special forces and Hamas fighters during an operation in Gaza on Sunday night, the army announced that the officer, named as Lieutenant Colonel M., was the highest ranking IDF officer to be killed in action since 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.

IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said on Monday morning that“M’s personal details will not be publicized, but he is worthy of all of our salutes for his actions last night, and in the past.

“What was made public tonight is the tip of the iceberg of actions aimed at solidifying Israel’s superiority. The extraction of the forces was an act of courage that will be discussed in extent in the future” said Manelis, adding that, contrary to what has been reported, the object of Sunday night’s mission was intelligence oriented and it was not to abduct or assassinate a Hamas senior.

“Actions of this sort are considered heavily, and usually remain under the radar,” he said.

On Monday morning, Israel’s senior leadership expressed its condolences for the loss of M., whose full name remains classified for security reasons.

“An IDF special forces unit carried out a mission last night, of high security significance for Israel’s security” said IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, adding that the IDF “owes M. more than can be said.”

Family eulogizes fallen officer: He was a source of pride

Lt. Col. M., whose identity has not been approved for publication, was killed in a botched intelligence-gathering operation in Gaza late Sunday. His death was described by Israeli officials familiar with the top-secret details of the operation as “heroic,” with family and friends joining countless ministers and MKs in eulogizing him Monday.

“This is unbelievably difficult news,” one relative of the fallen officer told Israel Hayom. “For all of us, the entire community, not just for the family. He was a young man who left the community in the eighth grade and went off to study at a boarding school. He dedicated his entire life to the military.”

“He was very social, contributing a lot of his time to others. He helped a lot of people in need. I know that he was in a very elite unit. The loss is profound,” the relative said.

The relative recalled receiving the tragic news of M.’s death, saying, “We heard there was an incident and we heard that he was killed. The family didn’t know exactly what he did [in the military]. We knew he held a senior post. He had a wife and two children. His wife works in the health field and helps children. His father is retired. We are all in shock. It’s a terrible surprise – we weren’t expecting this.”

“We met just a week ago, I spoke to him. He wanted to leave the military in a few months and embark on a second career. He could have done anything he wanted, he had a good head on his shoulders. He was a source of pride for all of us, both in terms of his military career and personally, too,” he said.

Father of slain IDF officer: ‘I hope this is the final loss for Israel’

The father of a senior special forces officer who was killed overnight during an operation in the Gaza Strip said Monday he hopes that his son’s death will be the last Israel suffers.

The army described the incident, in which another officer was moderately injured which sparked hours of clashes, as an intelligence-gathering mission that went awry.

Most details of the raid, including the identity of the officer who was killed, remained subject to a military censor and could not be published.

“This is a great loss,” the father said, according to a report from Hadashot news television. “I hope it will be the final loss for the people of Israel.”

A close relative said that the officer, who has been identified by the military only by the Hebrew initial “Mem,” joined the army after high school and had remained in the service ever since.

The lieutenant colonel was 41 years old, was married with two children and lived in a town in northern Israel.

“He was a social activist and contributed greatly,” the relative said. “The family didn’t know what he did aside from the fact that he was a senior officer in an elite unit. His family was exemplary, his wife works in the medical sector and helps children.”

IDF says Gaza raid wasn’t an assassination, praises troops’ ‘heroic’ extraction

An Israeli special forces operation deep inside the Gaza Strip on Sunday night that sparked hours of clashes and left one senior IDF officer dead, along with seven Palestinian terrorists, was not an assassination raid but an intelligence-gathering mission that went awry, the army said Monday.

“The action was for intelligence purposes, not for an assassination or a kidnapping. It was planned despite the efforts to reach a [ceasefire] arrangement,” IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said told Army Radio.

“IDF troops that operated last night in the Gaza Strip became trapped in a highly complex situation. The soldiers acted heroically, hit those who threatened them and extracted themselves to Israeli territory,” Manelis said in a statement.

The spokesperson also told Army Radio that both the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas were investigating the previous night’s altercation. Tensions in southern Israel remained tense following the clash, with schools ordered closed and farmers kept away from their fields.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot praised the lieutenant colonel who was killed in the raid, saying “the IDF owes more to Lt. Col. ‘Mem’ than I can say.”

“Mem,” who could only be identified by the first Hebrew letter of his first name, was a 41-year-old father of two. His name and other personal details could not be published under order of the military censor.

Analysis: What was the IDF doing in Gaza and is a new war brewing?

In the days to come, Israel will face a number of challenges. One of the first will be explaining to the world why it sent troops into the Gaza Strip in the first place, especially with a cease-fire seemingly in place with the help of Qatar, which Israel permitted last week to transfer $15 million to Hamas.

What was so important that Israel was willing to endanger the cease-fire for it?

To answer that question, the IDF will have to provide some details about the operation. Was it carried out to gather intelligence, to kidnap someone, to sabotage something or to assassinate someone? The results of Sunday night’s operation won’t help Israel if the current round of violence escalates into a full-fledged war. Israel will be blamed for sparking the conflict.

The appearance on some of the late-night TV news shows of former IDF general Tal Russo, a past commander of the Southern Command with a particular expertise in commando operations, seemed like an IDF effort to change the narrative. Russo said that the operation seemed to be for the purpose of gathering intelligence, the kind of which, he said, takes place all the time without the public knowing about them.

How this develops will depend to a large extent on Hamas and its response. As of three hours after the botched operation, Hamas was retaliating with rocket fire throughout the South but not farther, meaning that it could potentially decide to contain the incident with the overnight rocket attacks and end it there.

On the other hand, it could decide to continue to escalate the situation.

Why was an elite IDF officer killed in Gaza?

Rousso’s explanation sounds reasonable, as Israel carries out operations beyond its borders on a regular basis.

The operation could have been related to intelligence-gathering on Hamas’ tunnel system as the senior Hamas militant killed in the operation identified as the Khan Younis commander Sheikh Nur Barakeh who was reported to be involved with Hamas’s tunnel program.

It could have also been related to intelligence-gathering on missing IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians held captive in the Strip.

Assassination or intelligence gathering, the timing of the operation was interesting with Israel and Hamas reported to be on the cusp of signing a long-term ceasefire agreement.

Following the deadly incident, Palestinians fired 17 projectiles into southern Israel with three of them intercepted by the Iron Dome Missile Defense system.

Unlike past rocket launches, Israel did not respond with any retaliatory strikes on Gaza.

It’s as if the IDF knew they may have killed the ceasefire.

A soldier’s diary of serving on the Gaza border

A sparkling white tablecloth lay beneath two flickering Shabbat candles; a picture of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef serenely surveyed the scene. The table was set for 12 and groaned beneath the weight of the food piled high upon it. Those assembled had labored over the menu and cuisine for several days already, as is their custom to treat the Shabbat meal as something special. The only matter that remained to be seen was for someone to make the Kiddush blessing, the centerpiece of the meal that instantly transforms it from a Friday night dinner to a Shabbat meal.

That’s where I came in. As the token religious reservist on the base adjoining the tense Gaza border, I was naturally asked to lead the Kiddush. As I looked out at the table overflowing with shellfish that someone’s mother had sent from Kibbutz Zikim, pork that Uri’s girlfriend had brought over from their Herzliya apartment, and a steaming challah loaf that surely contained butter, I wondered if Jewish law even permitted me to bless such a meal in which I was forbidden to taste a single dish displayed on the table.

I had been on the border for more than a week. When the month began, I had been a second-year university student scrambling to beat the morning traffic and make it to his first class on time. In the span of 24 hours, I had traded in my jeans and knapsack for green fatigues and an ancient M-16, scrambling across the Tze’elim training base’s sand dunes during a live fire exercise.

The overnight transition from a student trying to pass statistics class to a combat soldier in a reserve special forces unit is always jarring, but the atmosphere was different this time. Earlier that week, the IDF had bombed a Hamas terror tunnel snaking under the Israeli border near Kibbutz Kissufim. The resulting explosion turned the tunnel into an instant death trap. Five Islamic Jihad tunnel diggers had been inside the tunnel, and when a Hamas rescue force was sent in to save the trapped terrorists, they too met their deaths. At the end of the day, 12 terrorists were killed in what was considered the deadliest day of fighting since the end of 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. Unsurprisingly, Hamas was vowing revenge, and it fell on us – regular citizens with families and careers – to be the first line of defense.

Netanyahu: ‘A peace deal with Hamas, is like one with ISIS’

There is no possibility of a peace deal with Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, explaining that to do so would be akin to finalizing a diplomatic agreement with ISIS.

“There is no diplomatic solution to Gaza,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters during a rare public news conference in Paris. “I don’t have a solution for ISIS or Iran that want to destroy us.”

Such a diplomatic resolution would only be possible if Hamas agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and stop its attempts to destroy it.

“You cannot have a political resolution with those committed to your dissolution – that’s absurd,” Netanyahu said. “If your enemy wants to destroy you, what can you talk about?”

At best, he said, one can take a series of steps to reach an understanding to maintain calm and prevent an outbreak of violence.

Netanyahu spoke as Gaza violence threatens to erupt into a full scale war between Israel and Hamas. To prevent that outbreak, the United Nations and Egypt continue intense efforts to broker a cease-fire understanding between Israel and Hamas.

IDF spokesman lost the narrative on botched Gaza mission

Did the fact that a senior Qassam Brigades terrorist was killed indicate a return to targeted assassinations? Was this an intelligence-gathering mission gone awry? Rumors flew on social media and on WhatsApp.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon lamented on Monday that “everyone hears a shard of information and sends messages. Not only does that not help, it hurts us…You are endangering soldiers and security forces that are in action 24 hours a day. Hold back, I’m asking you.”

But it’s not enough to ask people to hold back. “Loose lips sink ships” was a World War II era slogan; this has been a problem for a long time. And the way to counter it is with good, trustworthy information to replace the bad.

It only took the IDF about an hour to deny that a soldier had been kidnapped, which was a good start.

But it took the IDF 12 hours to say: “The special operation yesterday was not intended to kill or abduct terrorists, but to strengthen Israeli security. The force waged a heroic and very complex battle and was able to exfiltrate in its entirety.” It took the IDF 10 hours to confirm that Lt.-Col. “M” was killed and another soldier was wounded.

Meanwhile, the Qassam Brigades did a victory lap Monday morning, saying they “taught the enemy a hard lesson.”

Thousands in Gaza demand revenge as Hamas commander, fighters buried

Chanting “revenge” and flanked by masked gunmen in camouflage, thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip on Monday buried seven Palestinian jihadists killed in an Israeli incursion as the ruling Hamas terror group launched a feverish security sweep across the territory.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh led a funeral for four members as masked gunmen in uniforms carried the coffins, wrapped in the flag of Hamas’s armed wing.

Hamas authorities in the Strip beefed up security measures after the incident, deploying checkpoints all over the territory. The group also canceled a weekly beach protest in northwestern Gaza along the border with Israel. The organizers said Monday’s protest was postponed “due to the ongoing security situation.”

An IDF special forces unit entered the territory Sunday night on what the Israeli military says was an intelligence-gathering mission. Most details of the operation could not be published by order of the military censor.
Mourners chant Islamist slogans while carrying the body of Hamas commander Nour Barakeh, who was killed during an Israeli raid, during his funeral, at his family house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, November 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

At some point during the raid, the troops were discovered by Hamas members and a firefight broke out, according to Palestinian accounts. The Israeli team called in aerial support, which provided cover fire to the soldiers as they made their way out of the coastal enclave.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Hamas Funeral Hits Snag As All Gravedigger Shovels Busy Digging Terror Tunnels (satire)

Burial for a number of Islamist fighters killed in a clash with Israel yesterday encountered delays when cemetery workers discovered the equipment they needed to inter the bodies had been appropriated by their movement’s operational wing for purposes of excavating underground passages to use in infiltrating Israel, witnesses reported.

A raid by IDF forces killed five Hamas operatives late Sunday, as a result of which supporters thronged the streets of this city in the southern sector of the coastal territory for a combined funeral. Hamas-flag-adorned coffins sat as speakers called for bloody vengeance against the Jewish State, vowed to continue the path of armed conflict, and praised the departed as holy martyrs. However, according to attendees, the procession to the cemetery ground to a halt upon realizing that the gravediggers were unable to prepare the burial plots because other Hamas personnel had taken their shovels and machinery to extend and repair the movement’s subterranean passages and logistical infrastructure.

Families of the departed voiced confusion and frustration. “I don’t get it,” murmured Ali Barakeh, a cousin of the field commander killed in the short battle. “Why didn’t anyone think of this earlier? I don’t know what to think, and I’m feeling buffeted and dazed. Can we blame this on the Jews? I mean directly.”

BBC News website sources report on Gaza incident from Hamas

That account obviously gives BBC audiences the mistaken impression that the “seven Palestinians” were killed before “an ensuing firefight” rather than during the exchange of fire. Readers were not told that the Hamas commander Barakeh was reported to be involved with Hamas’ tunnel programme.

Later versions of the report (9 and 10) included a sub-section titled “What happened?” which quoted “Palestinian sources” and “Palestinian officials” without clarifying that the source was again Hamas.

The final part of all versions of the BBC’s report continued the corporation’s deliberately euphemistic editorial policy of portraying the violent rioting, terror attacks and infiltrations along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip as “protests”.

“More than 200 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli forces since the end of March – most during weekly protests along the border at which thousands have expressed their support for the declared right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel.”

Notably, BBC audiences have not been informed to date of the relevant and related issue of last week’s transfer of $15 million in cash from Qatar to Hamas.

Classes canceled, trains closed in southern Israel as 17 rockets fired from Gaza

Classes were canceled for Monday morning in Gaza border communities as five volleys of at least three rockets and other projectiles were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip.

The IDF said early Monday morning 17 rockets were fired at Israel’s south, of which three were intercepted, during overnight hours and train stations in Sderot, Ofakim, Netivot and other Gaza border communities were closed on Monday.

Gadi Yarkoni, head of the Eshkol Regional Council, said the IDF did not discuss the closures with his office before making the decision.

“The IDF cancelled classes here, and also stopped work in the area” he told Army Radio on Monday morning, saying a “great tragedy” befell Israel with the death of Lt. Col. M. during the operation. He said the decision “caught him by surprise” as he discovered the decision via media channels and not from the IDF itself.

“It would have been nice [for the army] to discuss with us and hear our opinion,” he said, “but at the end of the day those who make the decisions are the IDF.”

At Least 10 Israelis Wounded in Massive Gaza Rocket Barrage

At least ten Israelis were wounded, one seriously, in a massive rocket barrage on Monday.

More than 100 projectiles were fired by Palestinian terrorists in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip into southern Israel in a coordinated assault that began at around 4:30 p.m. local time.

Homes in the southern cities of Sderot, Netivot and Ashkelon were hit by rockets.

Air raid sirens sounded as far away from Gaza as communities near the Dead Sea.

There was also an anti-tank missile strike on an Israeli bus near the Gaza border.

The Israeli military said it was responding to the attacks with strikes on terror targets throughout Gaza.

Monday’s events followed a surge of violence the previous day that was sparked by a botched IDF special forces operation in Gaza.

A Hamas commander, six other Palestinian terrorists and an IDF officer were killed in Sunday’s exchanges of fire.

In a statement published on Monday after the funerals of the terrorists were held and as the rocket offensive commenced, Hamas’ armed wing said, “In response to yesterday’s crime, the joint command of Palestinian factions announce the beginning of bombardment of the enemy’s settlements with scores of rockets.”

Teen in critical condition after rocket strikes bus

Israel Air Force jets began striking Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip after several heavy barrages of rockets from the coastal enclave were fired towards southern Israel, the IDF said Monday evening.

Incoming rocket sirens were activated across southern Israeli communities at around 4:30 p.m. and kept on wailing an hour later.

The army stated that more than 80 rockets had been fired from the strip, with several intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. According to reports, others hit inside the city of Sderot and the community of Ofakim.

According to Magen David Adom, several people were treated by medics and paramedics following the rocket barrages.

One 19-year-old was transferred to Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba in critical condition after he was hit standing near a bus near the Gaza Border.

Khaled Abu Toameh: The “Separate” Palestinian State

To date, Hamas and Fatah have not been able to agree on the interpretation of the “reconciliation” agreements already signed. Fatah claims that the agreements are supposed to allow its Ramallah-based government to assume full responsibility over the Gaza Strip. Hamas, for its part, remains vehemently opposed to relinquishing security control over the Gaza Strip.

Abbas’s official news agency, Wafa, issued a strongly worded statement accusing Hamas of being part of a “Zionist-American conspiracy” to detach the West Bank from the Gaza Strip. According to the statement, Hamas is now cooperating with the US and Israel to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip. “There will be no Palestinian state without the Gaza Strip, and there will be no [separate Palestinian] state in the Gaza Strip,” the statement quoted Abbas as saying.

Abbas can continue to present himself to the world as the “President of the State of Palestine” as much as he wants. He is only living in an illusion: it is obvious by now that he does not represent the two million Palestinians who are living in a separate Hamas-controlled entity in the Gaza Strip. Abbas has not been able to set foot in the Gaza Strip for the past 11 years, and his chances of ever returning there now seem to be zero.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Abbas eyeing ‘decisive decisions’ in relations with Hamas, Israel and U.S.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Hamas of obstructing the establishment of a Palestinian state, and hinted that he was planning new measures against the Gaza Strip.

Abbas, who was speaking during a rally in Ramallah on Sunday marking the 14th anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, also lashed out at the US and Israel because of US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East, which is also referred to as the “deal of the century.”

“There is an American conspiracy in the form of the deal of the century, and there is an Israeli conspiracy to implement the deal,” Abbas said. “Regrettably, there is another conspiracy by Hamas to obstruct the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.”

Abbas’s remark concerning Hamas is related to the continued effort by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations to achieve a truce agreement between Hamas and Israel. Abbas has repeatedly accused Hamas of working with the US and Israel to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas said that the PLO Central Council, a key decision-making body dominated by Abbas loyalists, has decided to make a series of “decisive decisions” in the coming days to determine the future of Palestinian relations with Hamas, Israel and the US.

“We won’t be afraid, and no one should blame us,” the PA president said in reference to the anticipated decisions.

Abbas did not provide further details regarding those decisions. However, he has been quoted in recent weeks as having threatened to impose additional sanctions on the Gaza Strip if Hamas reaches a truce agreement with Israel.

Marking Arafat death anniversary, Abbas rages against US ‘conspiracy’

Palestinians on Sunday marked 14 years since the death of iconic leader Yasser Arafat, with current leader Mahmoud Abbas denouncing a US-Israel “conspiracy” to implement a nascent peace plan in the West Bank and Gaza.

Abbas, Arafat’s successor as Palestinian Authority president, laid a wreath at the tomb in Ramallah in the West Bank, flanked by senior PA officials.

After paying tribute to Arafat as “the leader of the nation and the leader of the martyrs,” Abbas went on to accuse Israel and the United States of seeking to sabotage Palestinian statehood through a peace plan that President Donald Trump calls “the ultimate deal.”

“There is an American conspiracy through the ultimate agreement and the Israelis are conspiring to implement it,” he said.

Abbas suspended diplomatic contact with Washington following Trump’s 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel.

Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.

PM, Putin have ‘good meeting’ on sidelines of Paris summit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and ‎Russian President Vladimir Putin met Sunday at a ‎World War I memorial service in Paris. This was the ‎two leaders’ first meeting since the Sept. 17 ‎downing of a Russian plane by Syrian air defenses ‎trying to counter an Israeli airstrike on Iranian ‎assets in the war-torn country. ‎

‎”The conversation with President Putin was good and ‎businesslike. I would even describe it as very ‎important,” Netanyahu told reporters, adding that he ‎also spoke there with U.S. President Donald Trump.‎

Relations between Israel and Moscow have been tense ‎since the plane’s downing. Following the incident, ‎Russia delivered S-300 surface-to-air missiles to ‎Syria, despite Israel’s warnings that the deployment ‎of such weapons may further destabilize the region.‎

Israel and Russia have maintained a military ‎coordination mechanism for Syria as Russia has ‎provided key air support to President Bashar Assad’s ‎forces, while Israel has carried out dozens of ‎strikes against Iran-linked forces.‎

At WWI centenary, Netanyahu says Israel ‘shielding’ Europe from terrorism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel was “shielding” Europe from the spread of Islamist terrorism and the Continent should therefore be less “hostile” to the Jewish state, as world leaders gathered in France at an event marking 100 years since World War I.

“Israel is Europe’s shield in the Middle East [from terrorism], and without us it would spread and and many more people would push into Europe,” said Netanyahu at a press conference on the sidelines of the commemorations in Paris. “When we protect ourselves, we are also protecting Europe.”

The prime minister also suggested European leaders should “change their approach to us” as a result of this alleged protection.

“We certainly have criticism of the one-sided and hostile approach of the European Union to Israel,” said the prime minister, singling out European funding for human rights groups that document alleged abuses by Israeli soldiers.

Around 70 leaders, including the Russian and US leaders, traveled to the French capital to mark the centenary of the 1918 Armistice.

Australia PM says no decision made on Jerusalem embassy move

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said no decision had been made regarding relocating the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and downplayed the diplomatic tiff with Indonesia that was sparked by his announcement.

Relations between Australia and the Muslim-majority Indonesia have been strained since Morrison announced last month that his government was considering following the US in recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, in what would be a sharp break in longstanding Australian foreign policy.

When asked by Sky News in a interview that aired Monday what he would tell Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo about the potential embassy move at a regional summit later this week, Morrison said:

“I’ll update him that we are still working through the issue as a government, and the appropriate place to do that is internally, and we will continue to work through that respectfully.”

Morrison said he intended to restate Australia’s “100% commitment” to the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Widodo.

Lebanese who fought alongside Israel to receive much-needed aid

Veterans of the South Lebanon Army who reside in ‎Israel will soon become eligible for substantial ‎housing assistance, in recognition of their contribution to ‎IDF operations in southern Lebanon prior to the military’s ‎withdrawal from the region in May 2000.‎

The SLA was dissolved in the summer after the Israeli withdrawal and ‎‎Israel absorbed some 7,000 SLA veterans and their ‎‎families. Integration difficulties overwhelmed the ‎‎majority of them, and over half of them have since ‎left Israel. ‎

According to a bill drafted by the Defense Ministry ‎and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s adviser on ‎the SLA Brig. Gen. (ret.) Yigal Pressler, housing ‎grants would amount to 500,000 shekels ($136,000) for each family. ‎

The bill will be presented to a government vote in ‎the coming days.‎

The Defense Ministry has earmarked NIS 150 million ‎‎($41 million) for this purpose, estimating that some ‎‎300 SLA veterans are eligible for housing ‎assistance. The funds will be distributed between 2019 and ‎‎2024.‎

The proposal states that the assistance will be offered to SLA veterans “as a token of the state’s ‎deep appreciation for their work with the IDF, and taking into ‎account the economic distress most of them ‎experience, especially with regard to housing ‎issues.” ‎

Would-be Arab Israeli jihadist’s Syria trip foiled by his mother taking passport

State prosecutors on Sunday filed an indictment against an Arab Israeli man who had planned to join jihadist anti-regime terror groups in Syria but was prevented from doing so by his mother who took away his passport, the Justice Ministry said in a statement Monday.

In addition to his failed move to Syria, Ahmad Sarsour, 20, from the northern Arab town of Kafr Qassem, also planned to carry out a stabbing attack against Jews in Jerusalem but was talked out of it by an acquaintance, prosecutors said.

Other activities included failed attempts to obtain a sniper rifle, explosives and rocket fuel via the internet. He did, however, manage to buy a knife online which he planned to use in the stabbing attack.

Sarsour is accused of trafficking offenses, manufacturing and importing a knife, attempted illegal travel abroad, funding terror and obstructing justice as well as other offenses, according to the indictments filed Sunday at the Central District Court.

“The defendant, over a long period of time, expressed identification and support for terror groups, expressed a strong desire to leave for Syria for the purposes of jihad, took an intense interest in weapons and explosives, and was even in contact with declared terror organizations,” according to the court papers.

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