Archive for March 25, 2019

Historical !

March 25, 2019

Trump signs declaration recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over disputed Golan Heights

IDF strikes Gaza Strip after Hamas rocket destroys family home 

March 25, 2019

Source: IDF strikes Gaza Strip after Hamas rocket destroys family home – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

Retaliatory strikes expected to last hours.

BY ANNA AHRONHEIM
 MARCH 25, 2019 18:07
IDF begins striking Hamas targets in response to earlier rocket fire

The Israeli airstrike began striking targets across the Gaza Strip Monday evening in response to a long-range rocket struck a civilian home in central Israel in the morning.

“The IDF has began attacking terrorist targets belonging to the Hamas terror organization across the Gaza Strip. More details to come,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.

The IDF retaliation is expected to be strong and could last for several hours.

One position hit was a Hamas naval position west of Gaza City, and a another was a large Hamas training camp in northern Gaza, Palestinian security officials and Hamas media outlets said.

Both positions were likely to have been evacuated, as Hamas had hours of notice that Israeli strikes were coming.

Witnesses said three missiles hit the northern target.

As a precaution, the IDF instructed residents in Gaza border communities to remain close to bomb shelters or safe rooms, closed the Zikim beach and restricted gatherings of more than 100 people in open spaces and more than 300 people in closed spaces across the Gaza border communities.

Israel’s military has also deployed two infantry and armored brigades to southern Israel and has begun a limited call up for reservists in the intelligence and air defense corps. The two additional brigades sent to bolster the IDF’s Gaza Division with some 1,000 soldiers, had been conducting training exercises but were cut short due to the heightened tensions.

According to IDF Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, the locally produced rocket was fired by Hamas operatives from a Hamas military post in Rafiah in the southern part of the Strip and had a range of 120 kilometers.

Manelis, who refused to answer if the rocket was fired accidentally or deliberately, said that it was serious incident and that Israel is holding Hamas responsible.

“The launch was carried out by Hamas from one of the group’s launchpads. We see Hamas as responsible for everything that happens in Gaza,” Manelis said on a call with reporters.

Following the incident, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi held a situational assessment with the the head of Military Intelligence Commander Maj.Gen. Tamir Hyman, Commander of the Israeli Air Force Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin, the Head of the Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi and other senior officers.

“The IDF is improving its readiness for a variety of scenarios,” Manelis said. “This is a serious incident of a direct hit on a house in central Israel and follows a series of incidents. The deployment is also offensive, not just reactive.”

Reuters contributed to this article. 

 

CH 2 Air attacks on gaza have begun.

March 25, 2019

 

Warnings in the Bordr region: “Soon the IDF Will Attack”

March 25, 2019

Source: News – Warnings in the Envelope: “Soon the IDF Will Attack”

residents: “In the near future, the IDF will begin to attack in Gaza, explosions will be heard.” Shelters will be opened in several locations in the south,

Nir vernacular, military correspondent | Tamir Steinman | Roni Daniel | News | Published 25/03/19 16:48 | Updated 25/03/19 17:18

17:41:29

IDF braces for confrontation with Hamas following direct hit on home 

March 25, 2019

Source: IDF braces for confrontation with Hamas following direct hit on home – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

Two additional brigades deployed to the south, limited call-up of reservists after seven civilians wounded by rocket strike early Monday morning.

BY ANNA AHRONHEIM, JERUSALEM POST STAFF
 MARCH 25, 2019 17:01
Head of IDF Southern Command, Maj.-Gen. Hertzi Halevy, meets an officer shot in the helmet by sniper

Israel has deployed two infantry and armored brigades to southern Israel and has begun a limited call up for reservists in the intelligence and air defense corps following rocket fire on central Israel Monday morning, the IDF said.

According to IDF Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, the locally produced rocket was fired from Hamas operatives from a Hamas military post in Rafiah in the southern part of the Strip and had a range of 120 kilometers.

Manelis, who refused to answer if the rocket was fired accidentally or deliberately, said that it was serious incident and that Israel is holding Hamas responsible.

“The launch was carried out by Hamas from one of the group’s launchpads. We see Hamas as responsible for everything that happens in Gaza,” Manelis said on a call with reporters.

Following the incident, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi held a situational assessment with the the head of Military Intelligence Commander Maj.-Gen. Tamir Hyman, Commander of the Israeli Air Force Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin, the Head of the Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi and other senior officers.

While there has been no changes in guidelines to Israel’s homefront, “the IDF is improving its readiness for a variety of scenarios,” Manelis said. “This is a serious incident of a direct hit on a house in central Israel and follows a series of incidents. The deployment is also offensive, not just reactive.”

The two additional brigades sent to bolster the IDF’s Gaza Division with some 1,000 soldiers, had been conducting training exercises but were cut short due to the heightened tensions.

Hamas officials have said that the rocket which struck a home in central Israel injuring seven civilians was fired from the Gaza Strip by mistake, Israeli media reported. Nevertheless Hamas leaders went underground and Hamas personnel were evacuated from positions across the coastal enclave in anticipation of a strong Israeli response.

Meanwhile Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nahaleh warned Israel against any retaliatory strikes, saying “we warn the enemy against any aggression on the Gaza Strip. Its leaders must understand that we will respond strongly to any aggression.”

Seven people were injured Monday morning the rocket launched from the Gaza Strip struck a private home in central Israel, the third long-range rocket fired from the Hamas-run enclave in two weeks.

The attack triggered Code Red incoming rocket sirens at around 5:20 a.m. throughout the Sharon and Emek Hefer regions and a loud explosion was heard after the rocket struck the home in the community of Mishmeret north of Kfar Saba.

The strike set off a fire in the home, destroying it completely. Another 30 homes were said to be damaged by the attack.

Magen David Adom rescue services said that seven people, including two children and an infant, were treated for wounds and evacuated to Meir Hospital.

Of those injured, a woman in her 60s was in moderate condition suffering from blast injuries, minor burns and shrapnel wounds and a woman in her 30s was in moderate condition with shrapnel injuries. Two men aged 60 and 30 as well as a girl aged 12, a 3 year-old boy and a 18 month-old infant, were lightly injured.

Several neighbors are being treated for shock and four dogs were found dead on site.

The Israeli military said that it had identified the launch of one rocket from the Gaza Strip, some 100 kilometers away from where it struck. The Iron Dome missile defense system had not been activated.

Following the attack Israel decided to close the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings as well as well reduce the permitted fishing area off the coast of the Gaza Strip until further notice.

The IDF has also closed a number of roads and areas including the Black Arrow site close to the Gaza border following a security assessment. The military has also halted any agricultural work in fields near the border fence and all schools in the Eshkol regional council ended early.

All public events scheduled to take place on Monday in the southern city of Ashkelon were also canceled,including a soccer game between local team Hapoel Ashkelon and Hapoel Ramat Hasharon.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is in Washington, held a telephone consultation with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi,the head of the Shin Bet (Israel security agency) Nadav Argaman, National Security Council Director Meir Ben-Shabbat and other senior security officials

“I spoke to the IDF Chief of Staff, head of the Shin Bet and head of Intelligence and that he sees this as a criminal act against the State of Israel,” he said, adding that he has cut his trip to the US short and return to “manage our operations up close.”

Netanyahu is set to meet with US President Donald Trump and will return to Israel after his meeting. He has cancelled his speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference.

Benny Gantz, the Head of the Blue and White Party and Netanyahu’s main opponent, called on Netanyahu to deal with the crisis and not his personal issues.

He tweeted that “those who do not respond with force and instead [pay] Hamas, dismiss attacks on the citizens of the south, and scorn the attack on Tel Aviv, now get rockets in the Hasharon region.”

“Will he now, as well, be satisfied with Hamas’s claim of an error or will he finally focus on the security of the citizens of the state and not on his legal issues?” Gantz continued. “I wish the wounded a speedy recovery.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon tweeted, “This is a deliberate and dangerous act of aggression by Palestinian terrorists, encouraged no doubt by the complacency of @UNHumanRights . We will not allow this!”

MK Avi Dichter, the chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said that Israel wouldn’t hesitate to go to war with Gaza following the attack, even if it would delay the upcoming elections.

“The political echelon won’t hesitate to order an operation in Gaza, even at the cost of delaying elections,” Dichter said in an interview with Army Radio.

The rocket attack came 10 days after two rockets were fired at Tel Aviv by Hamas, the first time since the 2014 war. One of the rockets struck an open area in the city of Holon just south of Israel’s financial capital.  The Israeli army retaliated by striking some 100 targets across the Hamas-run coastal enclave.

The army said that the rockets were likely fired towards Tel Aviv by mistake.

 

IDF: Reserves and brigades mobilized

March 25, 2019

Source: News – IDF: Reserves and brigades mobilized

( Translated from the Hebrew. – JW )

At the end of an assessment of the situation, the IDF decided to jump two infantry and armored brigades into the Gaza Strip and recruit reservists for the Iron Dome and Home Front Command systems. IDF: The attack was carried out by the Hamas leadership and is responsible for it – “preparing for a variety of scenarios”

Nir vernacular, military correspondent | News | Posted 25/03/19 10:31 | Updated 25/03/19 12:19

Tanks of the IDF

IDF tanks. Archive | photo : Flash 90 / Yossi Zamir

Hamas investigating rocket fire; official cites ‘bad weather’ as possible cause

March 25, 2019

Source: Hamas investigating rocket fire; official cites ‘bad weather’ as possible cause | The Times of Israel

Terror group said to have ‘no interest’ in rocket fire at Israel ahead of arrival of Egyptian delegation in Gaza

File: Masked operatives from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terror group, ride vehicles as they commemorate the 30th anniversary of their group, in Gaza City, December 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

File: Masked operatives from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terror group, ride vehicles as they commemorate the 30th anniversary of their group, in Gaza City, December 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

A Hamas official denied Israel’s accusation that it was behind Monday’s rocket strike north of Tel Aviv, which wounded seven Israelis and led Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to vow a strong response.

“No one from the resistance movements, including Hamas, has an interest in firing rockets from the Gaza Strip toward the enemy,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity, noting the possibility that it was caused by “bad weather.”

The Hamas-run Interior Ministry on Monday launched an investigation to determine who fired the rocket, a senior official with the Hamas terror group told The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity.

As of Monday afternoon, Hamas had not issued an official statement on the rocket launch and no terror group in Gaza had taken responsibility for it.

A rocket was fired at Mishmeret, a town in central Israel, early Monday from the Gaza Strip. It struck a residential building and left seven injured including two small children.

IDF spokesman Ronen Manelis said, “The launch was carried out by Hamas from one of the group’s launchpads. We see Hamas as responsible for everything that happens in Gaza.” The rocket came from Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, he said.

The senior Hamas official, who is based in Gaza, noted that an Egyptian security delegation was slated to visit the coastal enclave later on Monday, emphasizing the terror group “does not have an interest in firing a rocket at Israel before its arrival.”

Egyptian intelligence officials have visited Gaza and Israel several times recently to discuss efforts to advance a de facto ceasefire between terror groups in the Strip and the Jewish state.

The official added that Hamas leaders and Egyptian officials were in contact on Monday regarding the rocket fire.

UN coordinator to the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov tweeted Monday that the international organization was “working intensely with Egypt and all sides but the situation remains remains VERY tense.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to respond “forcefully” to the “criminal attack” and has cut short a trip to the US so that he can oversee the response from Israel.

The Israeli military has deployed two additional brigades to the Gaza region and called up reservists for air defense units following the attack, according to the IDF.

Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziad al-Nakhala said the Palestinian terror group will respond to any Israeli “aggression” with force.

“We warn the Zionist enemy against perpetrating any aggression against the Gaza Strip. Its leaders should know that we will respond with force to their aggression,” said Nakhala, a Gaza native who has been based in Syria and Lebanon since 1988, in a statement published on the Islamic Jihad-linked Palestine Today website.

On March 14, two rockets from Gaza were fired at Tel Aviv, landing in open areas and causing no direct injury. In response, Israeli war planes hit over 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza later that night, the army said at the time.

The following day, after a brief exchange of fire, Israel and terror groups in Gaza reportedly agreed to a ceasefire. Israeli media later reported defense officials said that low-level Hamas operatives apparently shot off those rockets by mistake.

 

Preparing for Response: “Closed Military Area”

March 25, 2019

Source: The News – Preparing for Response: “Closed Military Area”

( Translated from the Hebrew. – JW )

The UN’s Middle East envoy: “We are working to prevent an escalation but the situation is serious”

Nir vernacular, military correspondent | Tamir Steinman | News | Published 25/03/19 13:50 |Updated 25/03/19 15:39

Announcement of closed military zone in Gaza vicinity (Photo: News)

Photo : News

MP who quit UK Labour over anti-Semitism warns AIPAC ‘things can change quickly’

March 25, 2019

Source: MP who quit UK Labour over anti-Semitism warns AIPAC ‘things can change quickly’ | The Times of Israel

Joan Ryan says her party sank ‘so low, so fast,’ and urges lobby group to confront politicians ‘who question Israel’s right to exist, engage in anti-Semitic tropes about loyalties’

British MP Joan Ryan addresses AIPAC policy conference, March 24, 2019 (AIPAC screenshot)

British MP Joan Ryan addresses AIPAC policy conference, March 24, 2019 (AIPAC screenshot)

WASHINGTON– A British MP who recently quit the Labour Party over anti-Semitism warned participants at the annual AIPAC pro-Israel lobby’s policy conference here on Sunday night that her former party had changed beyond recognition in just three years, and that “things can change quickly” for the worse elsewhere too.

Joan Ryan, the non-Jewish head of Labour Friends of Israel, was speaking soon after AIPAC’s own CEO Howard Kohr highlighted that the lobby group is under attack for its core mission — supporting a strong US-Israel relationship — including, said Kohr, by critics who are “saying you can’t even be a good American and a supporter of Israel.”

Ryan, whose address was punctuated by warm applause from the 18,000 conference participants, said she had been a Labour member for 40 years but that the party had been “transformed… taken over by the far left” and was now “riddled with anti-Semitism.”

Under its leader Jeremy Corbyn, “who proudly declares Hamas and Hezbollah to be his friends,” Labour “now seeks to demonize and delegitimize Israel,” she charged.

Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn waves to delegrates after giving his keynote speech on the final day of the Labour party conference in Liverpool, north west England on September 26, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF)

She said she would “never have believed three years ago” that Labour, which she noted backed the establishment of Israel even before the 1917 Balfour Declaration, would “have sunk so low, so fast.”

Ryan noted that she and several other colleagues had now “walked away from the Labour Party” and set up a new faction, and that she had come to the US to remind her audience “that things can change quickly.”

She urged the audience to condemn anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism “unequivocally” whenever and wherever it is found. And in apparent reference to critics of AIPAC such as freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Ryan declared: “We must always call out politicians, from whatever side of the aisle, who question Israel’s right to exist, and engage in vile anti-Semitic tropes about the loyalties of British or American Jews to their countries.”

“Sticking to your convictions isn’t always popular, but it is always right,” she declared to more applause, noting that she had been subjected to a “torrent of abuse” when leaving Labour. “Those threats only strengthen my resolve,” she said, and would not stop her “standing by British Jews against the far left and the far right” and “standing up for Israel.”

“I never forget that Israel is not just a Jewish state but a democratic state in a neighborhood where democracies are few and far between” and “a country where Christians, Muslims and Jews are free to practice their faiths,” she said.

Ryan concluded, “Let’s stand together — proud of each other and proud of Israel in the battles that lie ahead.”

Ryan quit Labour last month to join The Independent Group (TIG) saying anti-Semitism was not a problem in the party until Corbyn became leader.

Former Labour Party and now members of The Independent Group of MPs (L-R front row) Gavin Shuker, Joan Ryan, Mike Gapes and Angela Smith listen as they attend a press conference being given by their new colleagues former Conservative Party and now an Independent MPs Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston in central London on February 20, 2019 following the their resignation from the Conservative Party in a joint letter. (Niklas HALLE’N / AFP)

Nine Labour MPs have quit the party in recent weeks, many of them citing anti-Semitism.

After leaving the party for TIG, Ryan received threatening letters including death and rape threats. One letter writer, declaring support for Corybn, reportedly wrote that Ryan should be “thrown in the ovens.”

Labour has been rocked by charges of anti-Semitism in its ranks since the hard-left Corbyn became its leader in 2015, with Corbyn himself also facing such accusations — which he has denied.

 

As 2020 Dems call to rejoin Iran deal, Dermer says that’s ‘totally unacceptable’

March 25, 2019

Source: As 2020 Dems call to rejoin Iran deal, Dermer says that’s ‘totally unacceptable’ | The Times of Israel

Israeli envoy to the US tells AIPAC that re-entering the JCPOA means giving ‘hundreds of billions of dollars to people who are committed to Israel’s destruction’

Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, speaks at AIPAC's policy conference, March 24, 2019 (AIPAC screenshot)

Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, speaks at AIPAC’s policy conference, March 24, 2019 (AIPAC screenshot)

WASHINGTON — Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, on Sunday castigated those calling for the United States to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal after several Democratic 2020 candidates promised to do so if elected. Such a move, he said, would mean giving “hundreds of billions of dollars to people who are committed to Israel’s destruction.”

“There are leaders who are calling to return to that deal,” Dermer told a crowd of 18,000 at AIPAC’s annual confab. “That is something that has to be seen as totally unacceptable,” he said, without specifically mentioning the Democrats.

His comments come a week after several leading Democratic presidential candidates made clear that they would reverse President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the landmark pact.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s 2019 Policy Conference kicked off Sunday. This year’s motto — “Connected for Good — is a rebuke to the controversy that has ensnared the organization over the last month, after freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar accused the lobby of paying politicians to support Israel.

The confab is designed to emphasize that both sides of the aisle continue to support Israel, perhaps mitigating the perception that Israel has become a Republican cause. “The conference will focus on further strengthening bipartisan support for the US-Israel relationship,” an AIPAC official told The Times of Israel.

During Sunday evening’s plenary session, i24 News’s Michelle Makori asked the Israeli envoy whether the Trump administration’s withdrawing the US out of the agreement and restoring sanctions was “enough” to ensure Tehran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.

“No, it’s not enough,” Dermer said. “But I’ll tell you what the wrong path was: the wrong path was to sign that nuclear deal.”

During the Obama’s administration, Dermer was one of the accord’s most vociferous opponents. He famously orchestrated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s backdoor invitation to address Congress lambasting the deal, a moment that is widely regarded as stoking a partisan divide on Israel in Washington.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint meeting of the United States Congress in the House chamber at the US Capitol March 3, 2015 in Washington, DC (photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

On Sunday, Dermer, a former Republican operative, called the Israeli premier’s speech the “proudest day that I’ve had as ambassador to Israel to the United States.” He also said that urging America’s return to the Iran deal was tantamount to seeking to aid a country bent on destroying Israel.

“Anyone who is saying that they’re going to return to the deal is basically saying they’re going to give hundreds of billions of dollars to people who are committed to Israel’s destruction, and our Arab neighbors’ destruction, and giving them a clear path to nuclear weapons,” he told Makori.

Trump removed the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the deal is formally known, and renewed sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Last week, Al Monitor solicited Democratic candidates as to whether they would rejoin the deal that Trump pulled out of. Five said they would, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and California Senator Kamala Harris.

The Democratic National Committee also passed a resolution in February calling for the United States to re-enter the agreement.

At the outset of Sunday’s question-and-answer session, Dermer applauded Trump for recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which he is expected to make official in a signed declaration on Monday at the White House alongside Netanyahu.

“I think that deserves a standing ovation,” he told the crowd.

Dermer was also asked if he thought there was still bipartisan support for Israel. “Yes, I think we have bipartisan support,” he said, and then began explaining why it was right to support Israel.