Archive for March 26, 2019

Nasrallah, Abbas slam U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Golan 

March 26, 2019

Source: Nasrallah, Abbas slam U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Golan – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

Nasrallah added that he wouldn’t even be surprised “if Trump decides that the West Bank is part of Israel.”

 MARCH 26, 2019 20:47
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivers a speech

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called President Donald Trump’s declaration recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights “a serious issue and a historic crossroads of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” in a response on Tuesday.

“The United States and the Trump administration are disrespecting the international community and law,” Nasarallah said. “The entire world is united in that the Golan is occupied land.”

Nasrallah stated that “international institutions are unable to protect any of the rights of nations, including their sovereignty.”

Attacking US support for Israel, he said the US doesn’t “honor any interests which harm Israel – they don’t even consider their friends if it is at the expense of Israel.”

Nasrallah called the declaration a “formative and historic moment in the Arab-Israeli conflict. It began with the weak response to the transfer [of the embassy] to Jerusalem, which led him to issue a declaration on the Golan.”

He added that he wouldn’t even be surprised “if Trump decides that the West Bank is part of Israel.”

The Hezbollah leader called for an end to the peace initiative between Arab countries and Israel, saying that this is “the only way the Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians will be able to fight to regain their rights and their lands.”

In response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent statements against Hezbollah, Nasrallah said “the American secretary of state did not mention that there is a problem for Lebanon called Israel, and it is the one which committed crimes. Pompeo doesn’t know what’s happening in Lebanon.”

Nasrallah stated, “with Iranian weapons, we fought terrorists who were brought by the US, and we liberated our land from Israel.”

“Sovereignty is not determined by the US or Israel.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in response to the Golan declaration on Tuesday. “No matter how long the occupation continues, Jerusalem and its holy places are red line for Palestinians and Arabs that cannot be crossed.”

“There will be no compromise on Jerusalem or any other Arab territory,” Abbas continued. “The American administration’s policy will only increase tension and instability and will not achieve peace and security for anyone.”


Rocket fired from Gaza as Israel warns raids could resume, deploys more troops 

March 26, 2019

Source: Rocket fired from Gaza as Israel warns raids could resume, deploys more troops | The Times of Israel

Senior Israeli official says ‘no ceasefire reached’ with Hamas, despite group’s claims to the contrary and relative calm throughout the day

IDF tanks stationed near the Israeli Gaza border on March 26, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

IDF tanks stationed near the Israeli Gaza border on March 26, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel on Tuesday night warned it was prepared to resume strikes on the Gaza Strip, as additional soldiers were deployed to the border region following a major exchange of fire between the army and Palestinian terror groups in the coastal territory the day before.

Less than an hour after the threats of further Israeli attacks in the Strip, a rocket was fired at the Eshkol region of southern Israel, triggering air raid sirens in the area and sending thousands of residents to bomb shelters.

The projectile apparently landed in an open field, causing neither injury nor damage, an Eshkol spokesperson said.

The resumption of tensions came after a day that saw an uneasy calm over the border region, with the military announcing Tuesday evening it was removing all restrictions on communities in southern Israel beginning the next day, allowing students to return to schools that had been shuttered and businesses to reopen as usual.

The violence began early Monday with a rocket fired at a home in central Israel. On Monday night, following a large exchange of fire, Gaza’s Hamas rulers announced a ceasefire and no further projectiles were launched at Israel since early Tuesday morning.

However, a senior Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied that a truce had been reached and threatened additional attacks on Hamas targets in the Strip.

“There is no ceasefire agreement. The fighting may resume at any moment,” the official said.

Fire and smoke around buildings in Gaza City during reported Israeli strikes on March 25, 2019. (Mahmud Hams / AFP)

At the same time, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi ordered additional reinforcements to the Gaza border region following consultations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, and other top security officials.

The deployment included an additional artillery battalion and the command unit of an infantry brigade. Kohavi also ordered the call-up of more reservists and canceled plans for soldiers currently stationed in the Gaza Strip to move to other regions in Israel, the army said.

The Israeli military had already deployed two additional brigades to the Gaza border region on Monday and called up approximately 1,000 reservists, for air defense and other select units.

Early Monday, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck a home in a farming community in central Israel and wounded seven people, leading Israel to launch dozens of retaliatory raids on the enclave.

Israeli warplanes carried out dozens of bombing runs and Gazans fired some 60 projectiles at southern Israel, with the violence only waning before dawn Tuesday.

Israeli security forces inspect the scene of a house that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the town of Mishmeret in central Israel on March 25, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Though Israelis in the south began returning to their routines on Tuesday, there were a number of minor incidents of violence during the afternoon.

Several Palestinians crossed into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday and set fire to an unmanned military post along the border before slipping back into the coastal enclave, the army said.

Separately, an incendiary balloon launched from Gaza sparked a fire in a field in the Eshkol Regional Council. Security forces operating in the area extinguished the blaze.

Additionally, three airborne explosive devices flown from Gaza detonated over the nearby Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.

There were no reports of injuries.


As IDF Gives All-Clear, Gazans Launch Another Rocket

March 26, 2019

Photo Credit: courtesy, Netiv Ha’Asara

Gaza terrorists fired another rocket at the Gaza envelope communities along Israel’s southern border at around 8:06 pm Tuesday night, barely 15 minutes after the IDF had issued the “all-clear” for communities to stand down from their 24-hour state of alert.

The Red Alert incoming rocket siren sent thousands of Israelis scrambling to race for bomb shelters, not expecting the rocket fire after having been told restrictions in their communities were being relaxed.

The IDF confirmed the launch; Israeli security personnel reported the rocket landed in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council district. No injuries or property damage reported.

Barely an hour earlier, an Israeli soldier was wounded at the Gaza border when he was hit by a homemade bomb hurled by a Hamas-led rioter.

Despite pressure from Egypt to avoid provoking Israel further with any additional violence at the border – and despite prior announcements by Hamas that “night confusion” activities would be curtailed in light of the increased tensions – explosions were heard by residents of Jewish communities along the border area.

Residents of the Eshkol Regional Council district received an update early Tuesday evening advising them that explosions were indeed being heard “as a result of disturbances in several locations along the border.”

IDF troops were deployed in the area of those events.

During the day, numerous arson terror attacks were launched towards Israeli territory by Hamas-led Gaza terrorists. In several cases, the incendiary balloons landed in agricultural fields with their attached flaming Molotov cocktails and set the fields afire.

A senior Israeli government source has said there is, in fact, no cease fire. Israel’s military presence is being increased at the border.

‘Give IDF order to defeat Hamas’

March 26, 2019

Education Minister slams PM’s security policy: ‘Cease-fire would cost us blood; as Defense Minister I’ll shake system, stop bombing dunes.’

Flash 90

Education Minister Naftali Bennett today slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and called for crushing Hamas until it could no longer launch rockets and hit Israel.

“Tonight I slept in the Gaza area to feel like a resident of the South, a day after I felt what a resident of Raanana feels. At five in the morning, I experienced an alarm and running with the children to the security room,” Bennett said at the conference.

“The residents of the south have been abandoned for 15 years by the security leaders of the State of Israel, and the two candidates for Prime Minister are busy day and night with embarrassing personal affairs, cell phones, submarines, interrogations, and whining about who gets more press time.

“From here I say, with the arrival of Prime Minister Netanyahu the IDF must be given the order to defeat Hamas, to uproot from Hamas its ability to harm the residents of the south, not to speak of deterrence, but to take the sword to Hamas and break it. There is something to be done and we have to do it.

“After yesterday’s shooting at the center of the country and then massive rocket fire on the south, we felled an empty building and told ourselves that Hamas is deterred and they haven’t seen anything like this for 40 years. Then they rush to beg for a cease-fire from those who caused all the shooting.”

Bennett stressed, “Hamas must be crushed. There is a plan. I introduced it long ago and I ask the cabinet to adopt it.

“Even the strongest army in the Middle East cannot win when the political echelon doesn’t have the courage. The security leadership doesn’t provide security for the south. It’s okay to ask for some time and credit. My plan will also take time until everything is resolved, but the result will be uprooting the source of terror in Gaza.”

Calm returns to southern Israel after latest escalation with Hamas

March 26, 2019

Roadblocks removed, trains resume service.

By Anna Ahronheim
March 26, 2019 17:00

The IDF began lifting roadblocks, and trains resumed their service in southern Israel, as a shaky ceasefire seemed to hold Tuesday, a day after heavy rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded communities.

Earlier in the day, a senior Israeli security official denied reports of a ceasefire with Hamas and that Israel was planning further strikes.

“There is no agreement regarding a ceasefire; we are prepared to strike with even harder blows,” the source was quoted by Ynet News as saying.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who landed back in Israel after he cut short his trip to Washington, “has been updated on the latest developments during the flight and was in constant contact with the IDF chief of staff.” the source added that, “the instruction was to continue the strikes; the last word has to remain with Israel. Hamas has made various proposals for a ceasefire through intermediaries, and even offered to stop the clashes on the Gaza border.”

Netanyahu met with senior security officials at the Kirya Military Headquarters in Tel Aviv shortly after he landed, and addressed the AIPAC Policy Conference via a satellite connection.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: We Have Never Had A Better Friend Than President Trump

IDF rocket hits Hamas building in Gaza, March 26, 2019 (Reuters)

“We responded with great force,” he said. “In the last 24 hours, the IDF destroyed major Hamas terrorist installations on a scale not seen since the end of the military operation in Gaza four years ago.”

The latest escalation between Hamas and Israel began Monday morning when a long-range J-80 missile that was launched from Rafiah in the southern Gaza Strip struck and destroyed a civilian home some 120 km. away in the central Israeli community of Mishmeret, injuring seven members of one family and a neighbor.

Militants fired over 60 rockets into southern Israel, and the Israeli military carried out hundreds of strikes in the Gaza Strip overnight.

IDF fighter jets, combat helicopters, tanks and naval vehicles struck on Tuesday morning, attacking additional terrorist targets in a military compound belonging to Hamas in Dir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, as well as a military compound belonging to Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Beit Lahiya, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.

IDF tanks, attack helicopters and naval vessels also targeted several Hamas military posts.

“The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for all the goings on in and out of the Gaza Strip. The IDF is determined to carry out the task of protecting the citizens of Israel, and is prepared for various scenarios and intensifying its operations as necessary,” the IDF said.

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Incoming rocket sirens blasted throughout communities in Sderot, and the regional councils of Eshkol, Hof Ashkelon and Shaar HaNegev, as at least 30 rockets were fired towards Israel between 10.p.m. and 3.15 a.m., after Hamas said it had accepted an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that would have began at 10 p.m.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Israeli army radio on Tuesday morning that “rumors of a ceasefire are incorrect” and that Israel “will continue to exact a very heavy price from Hamas for its attacks on Israeli citizens.”

The military said the majority of the projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system while the rest fell in open territory.

One home in the city of Sderot suffered a direct hit by a rocket, but there were no injuries.

The Home Front Command published updated guidelines for residents in the Gaza border region Tuesday morning, restricting gatherings of more than 300 people in closed spaces across the Gaza border communities. Schools in the region as well as in Ashkelon, Ofakim, Netivot and the regional councils of Bnei Shimon, Merhavim and Hof Ashkelon had also been cancelled.

Israel began it’s retaliatory strikes at around 5.20 p.m., striking Hamas targets in Shati, Beit Hanoun, Saja’iya and other locations throughout the Gaza Strip. The targets included military compounds, tunnel shafts that were used to transport weapons, military positions and rocket launching positions.

Another target struck by Israeli jets was the offices of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in the Rimal neighborhood of the northern Gaza Strip, as well as a building that served as an office for military meetings and as the headquarters of Hamas’s internal security forces.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit stated that another target was a three-story building that served as a “secret headquarters” of Hamas where militants belonging to the security and intelligence divisions of the organization were located.

The Palestinian News agency WAFA reported that  three Palestinians were wounded in the Israeli strikes and had been transported to al-Shifa Hospital for medical treatment.

Israeli official says US Golan recognition paves way for other territories

March 26, 2019

Diplomatic source says Washington’s backing for sovereignty over plateau seized from Syria shows Israel can hold on to land it captures in a defensive war

US President Donald Trump, left, and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold up a Golan Heights proclamation outside the West Wing after a meeting in the the White House in Washington, DC, March 25, 2019.(Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

A senior Israeli diplomat said Tuesday that the US recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights will help Jerusalem lay claim to other lands it captured during defensive wars.

US President Donald Trump broke with decades of US policy on Monday by signing a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, a strategic plateau it captured from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War.

“This is important from a historical and political point of view,” said the official who spoke to media on condition of anonymity as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s entourage returned from Washington.

“We are in a confrontation with Iran and this [Golan recognition] hurts the Iranians [also because it] demonstrates that the US gives us absolute and powerful backing.” the official said. “The second thing is a principle that everyone says it is impossible to hold an occupied territory, and behold — it is possible if it is ours in a defensive war.”

Israel also took control of East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan during 1967’s Six Day War, which Jerusalem terms a defensive war, even though it struck first, because it was facing mobilized Egyptian forces, but the matter remains contested.

Israel extended Israeli law to the Golan in 1981, a step tantamount to annexation.

Israel has also extended sovereignty to East Jerusalem, though not the West Bank.

The official made no mention of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas the Palestinians want for a future state. Right-wing Israelis, including some cabinet ministers, are in favor of extending Israeli sovereignty to, or formally annexing, the West Bank.

Netanyahu has said in the past that under any future agreement Israel will maintain security control of the Jordan Valley, a strategic passage along the West Bank.

On Monday, Netanyahu said the US recognition underlines “one important principle in international relations: When you start wars of aggression, and lose territory, don’t come back and claim it later. It belongs to us.”

The official said that during talks with Trump, the prime minister also presented the US with a plan to solve the crisis in Syria, where Israel fears Iran or its proxies is working to establish a military foothold on Syrian territory from which to attack Israel.

A line of Sherman M-50 tanks and trucks full of soldiers ride towards East Jerusalem to confront the Jordanians on June 5, 1967. (Benny Hadar/Defense Ministry’s IDF Archive)

The UN Security Council and successive US administrations have always regarded the Golan as occupied territory whose return would be negotiated as part of a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and Syria.

In the wake of Trump’s proclamation, fellow veto-wielding UN Security Council permanent members Britain and France have both said they will continue to consider the Golan Heights Israeli-occupied in line with council resolutions, as have China and Russia.

Israel claims a unified Jerusalem — including the eastern parts of the city — as its indivisible capital and has established settlements throughout the West Bank. Israel’s authority over East Jerusalem is not recognized by the international community which views the eastern part of the city and the West Bank as occupied territory.

Trump is posed to reveal his “Deal of the Century” plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reportedly after coming Israeli national elections on April 9. The Palestinian Authority has already said it will reject the plan.

Agencies contributed to this report.

PM Netanyahu Addresses the AIPAC 2019 Policy Conference – YouTube

March 26, 2019