Archive for February 4, 2018

IDF strikes Hamas armed wing targets in response to rocket fire

February 4, 2018

IDF attacked two Hamas targets in southern Gaza on Friday night in response to Thursday’s rocket fire. A Red Alert siren that was sounded at the time of the attack proved to be a false alarm.

Avital Zippel
IAF fighter jets (archive) Photo Credit: IAF website

IDF fighter jets attacked two Hamas targets in southern Gaza on Friday night. The targets were located in a complex used by Hamas’ armed wing, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.

 A Red Alert siren was sounded at the time of the attack. The IDF clarified that the siren was a false alarm. Friday’s airstrikes were a further response to the rocket fired from the Gaza Strip late Thursday night.

As previously reported by JOL, IDF forces attacked a Hamas observation post in northern Gaza on Thursday following the launch towards Israel. No rocket remnants were found.

Earlier on Thursday, Israeli security forces apprehended four Palestinians after they crossed into Israel from Gaza carrying knives and a grenade. The suspects were taken into questioning.

Tensions have been escalating in southern Israel ever since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Dozens of projectiles have been fired from Gaza at Israel since the declaration. No injuries were reported.

Hamas Gaza chief orders highest security alert over fear of imminent war with Israel

February 4, 2018

According to Arabic-language reports, the political leader of Hamas in Gaza has ordered most of the terrorist group’s headquarters in Gaza evacuated over fear that Israel plans to launch a military conflict within coming days.

Omri Ariel
Photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib, Flash 90

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, reportedly believes war with Israel is likely to erupt within the next few days.

According to the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat, Sinwar has ordered Hamas headquarters in Gaza evacuated and has declared the highest level of security alert.

Sinwar’s moves come amid reports of multiple upcoming military exercises set to be conducted by Israel along its southern border, including the joint US-Israel Juniper Cobra exercise.

Russian Su-25 jet downed in Syria, pilot killed – Defense Ministry +video

February 4, 2018

A Russian Su-25 jet has crashed in Idlib province in north-western Syria, the Russian Defence Ministry confirmed, adding that it was probably shot down by MANPAD. The pilot ejected but was killed by militants on the ground.

Preliminary data showed the Su-25 plane was downed by a man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD), the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

READ MORE: Russian missiles strike area of Su-25 downing, killing at least 30 terrorists – MoD

The attack took place when the jet was flying over the Idlib de-escalation zone on Saturday. The pilot parachuted down into the area controlled by Al-Nusra terrorist group, the statement said. He was killed during a confrontation with the militants from an unspecified group.

READ MORE: First alleged footage of Russian Su-25 jet shot down over Syria’s Idlib (VIDEO)

Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria together with Turkey which is also responsible for the Idlib de-escalation zone is now trying to retrieve the body of the Russian pilot, the Defense Ministry confirmed.

Tahrir al-Sham, the extremist group linked to Al-Nusra terrorists, has claimed responsibility for the downing of the Russian aircraft, according to Reuters.

Earlier, another militant group, Jaysh al-Nasr, which claims affiliation to the Free Syrian Army, also posted videos and statements about the Russian plane on its Twitter account. It said the jet was shot down by some air defense systems.

In July 2016, two pilots were killed when a Russian military helicopter was downed by Islamic State militants near Palmyra. They had been attacking advancing terrorists at Damascus’ request when it was shot down.

The Russian air campaign supporting anti-terrorist efforts by Syrian authorities lasted from September 2015 to December 2017. In mid-December, President Vladimir Putin visited the Khmeimim Airbase to announce the withdrawal of most of the Russian troop contingent from the country.

Moscow played a vital role in the defeat of Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) terrorist group in Syria, as well as other jihadist groups, including Al-Nusra. Around 60,000 fighters were eliminated during the campaign, according to the defense ministry.

Palestinian Authority preparing to ‘disengage’ from Israel

February 4, 2018

PA Chairman, who also serves as Palestine Liberation Organization official, orders preparation of plans to ‘disengage’ from Israel.

Arutz Sheva Staff, 03/02/18 23:29

Mahmoud Abbas


The Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) top leadership on Saturday ordered preparations for disengagement from Israel.

Withdrawing the PLO’s 1988 recognition would threaten decades of Israeli relations with the Palestinian leadership and raise doubts over ongoing security coordination between the two.

It would also be seen as a fatal blow to the two-state solution, already on life support following the White House’s December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The PLO’s Executive Committee released a statement after a three-hour meeting Saturday saying it would set up a committee to study the derecognition move.

The organization’s top body was meeting for the first time since the Palestinian Central Council, another arm of the PLO, called for the step last month.

The Executive Committee, led by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, ordered the preparation of “plans and projects for disengagement steps with the Israeli government at the political, administrative, economic and security levels.”

Last month the PLO’s Central Council voted to suspend recognition of Israel until it recognizes “Palestine” and halts the building of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Western countries have been lobbying senior Palestinian officials to convince them not to take such a step, multiple diplomats said.

The US considered the PLO to be a terrorist organization until 1991. In 1993, as part of the Oslo Accords, the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist in peace, accepted United Nations Security Council resolutions, and “rejected” “violence and terrorism.”

However, the PLO has not kept its promise, consistently involving itself in violence and terrorism and paying terrorists stipends in proportion to their success in murdering Jews. Abbas recently declared the Oslo Accords “dead.”

Erekat says US is pushing a Palestinian ‘coup,’ tells Nikki Haley to ‘shut up

February 4, 2018

Top PLO official rails against the Trump administration for criticisms of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, but insists Palestinians are not looking for confrontation with US

3 February 2018, 10:26 pm

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat in his Ramallah office, November 23, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat on Saturday accused the Trump administration of trying depose the Palestinian leadership in a “coup” and told the “impudent” US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley she should “shut up” with her criticism of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Erekat, who has led the Palestinian peace negotiations and is secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, singled out Haley, who slammed Abbas for a recent speech that was full of anti-Semitic tropes.

Erekat said that Haley’s “impudence” has gone as far as calling for removing Abbas from power.

“She called for overthrowing the democratically elected Palestinian president,” Erekat complained in an interview with the Palestinian Al-Watan Voice news website.

“This is the president who led the peace process and promoted the principle of the two-state solution,” Erekat said, referring to Abbas. “Now this [US] ambassador is accusing him of lacking courage, and is calling for replacing him.”

Only the Palestinian people have that right, he said. “The Palestinian people are loyal to their martyrs, prisoners, wounded, struggles, steadfastness, and heroism. This is the reality. The Palestinians are the only ones who are entitled to hold their leaders accountable.”

Erekat was reacting to a speech given by Haley to the UN on January 25.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks during a UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East on December 18, 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP Photo/Kena Betancur)

“President Abbas declared the landmark Oslo Peace Accords dead. He rejected any American role in peace talks. He insulted the American President. He called for suspending recognition of Israel. He invoked an ugly and fictional past, reaching back to the 17th century to paint Israel as a colonialist project engineered by European powers,” Haley said.

“A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and the will to seek peace,” she said.

“I ask here today, where is the Palestinian King Hussein? Where is the Palestinian Anwar Sadat,” she said, referring to the Jordanian and Egyptian leaders who made peace with Israel. “If President Abbas demonstrates he can be that type of leader, we would welcome it. His recent actions demonstrate the total opposite.”

Erekat insisted that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, together with Haley’s remarks, amounted to an attempt to stage a “coup” against the “Palestinian political system.”

“Nikki Haley needs to shut up and realize that the Palestinian leadership is not the problem,” the top PLO official added. “Instead, the problem is the Israeli occupation and the policies it continues to pursue. I’m not saying that we don’t make mistakes; every society and every government makes mistakes.”

Erekat said the goal of Israel and the US was to “undermine the Palestinian national project.”

“US and Israeli officials are saying that any Palestinian leader who insists on East Jerusalem becoming the capital of Palestine and is committed to the right of return, in accordance with United Nations resolution 194, should be removed from power and replaced,” he said.

The US and Israel are searching for Palestinian leaders who will accept the “liquidation of the Palestinian national project,”  Erekat said.

“The Palestinian leadership has told the Americans and Israelis that, even after 1,000 years, they will not find any Palestinian who will collaborate with their scheme,” Erekat said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (C-R) speaks during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 14, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Abbas Momani)

The Palestinians, Erekat stressed, are determined to pursue diplomatic efforts at the UN Security Council and other international forums in response to the policies of the Trump administration.

“We will take Trump’s decision [to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel] to the International Court of Justice and we will seek membership in more international agencies,” he said.

In the wake of the recognition, formally declared by President Donald Trump on December 6, the Palestinians have said the US cannot be an honest broker in the peace talks and have refused to meet with US officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, who visited the region last month.

Nevertheless, Erekat insisted that the Palestinians were not looking for a fight with the US.

“We don’t seek a confrontation or a fight with the US administration,” Erekat said. “On the contrary — they are the ones taking several steps. The US administration is itself saying that it’s not an honest broker in the peace process. Therefore, we are seeking, together with international parties, to convene an international conference for peace.”

Syrian Rebels Shoot Down Russian Sukhoi 25 Fighter Jet, Kill Pilot

February 4, 2018

Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Dean Wagner via Wikimedia

An Iraqi Su-25 fighter jet destroyed in Operation Desert Storm.

A Russian Aerospace Force Su-25 fighter jet was shot down by Syrian rebels on Saturday in Idlib Province in northwestern Syria, near the Turkish border. The pilot ejected but was killed in an exchange of gunfire, the Russian defense ministry reported.

“On February 3, 2018, a Sukhoi 25 Russian fighter jet crashed when flying over the Idlib de-escalation zone. The pilot was able to report ejection from an area controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra militants. The pilot was killed while fighting against terrorists. According to preliminary information, the jet was brought down with a portable anti-aircraft missile system,” the defense ministry said.

 “The Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides in Syria alongside the Turkish side, responsible for the Idlib de-escalation zone, are taking steps to retrieve the Russian pilot’s body,” the ministry noted.

Earlier reports said that Syrian governmental forces were fighting against Jabhat al-Nusra units in the Idlib province.

The de-escalation zones were set up in Syria in May 2017, based on an agreement signed by Russia, Iran and Turkey. The zones are not recognized by the rebels, and Israel is vehemently opposed to such a zone being established in al-Quneitra Province in southern Syria, on Israel’s Golan Heights border.

The downing of the plane came as Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air support and Iranian infantry, have intensified their offensive in Idlib, one of the last rebel-held bastions in Syria.

So, no one is observing the de-escalation zone idea up there. In fact, Rami Abdel Rahman of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported on Saturday that “there have been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the past 24 hours. This plane was also carrying out raids there.”