Archive for March 28, 2019

Report: Israel Capitulates, Will Grant Concessions, Ease Restrictions, in Return for Quiet in Gaza

March 28, 2019
Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90
Arabs participating in the “Great March of Return” demonstration near the Gaza border, March 22, 2019.

Talal Abu Trifa, a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, on Thursday revealed details of the meeting held by the Egyptian security delegation in the Gaza Strip, the Hamas leadership, and the local terror factions Wednesday night, in which Egypt announced that Israel was willing to grant concessions to the Gaza Strip in exchange for quiet in the south, Channel 13 reported.

According to Abu Trifa, at the meeting, which lasted until after midnight, the Egyptians said Jerusalem had expressed willingness to comply with Hamas demands regarding the expansion of fishing areas to 18 miles, rehabilitation of the electricity lines in the Gaza Strip, and allowing the flow goods and money into the Strip.

Israel also expressed its readiness to allow the export of goods from the Gaza Strip.

These concessions will be given in return for the return of quiet to the south, including the cessation of rocket launches and the cessation of the firing of incendiary balloons, as well as the removal of the mobs of Arab rioters to a distance of 300 yards from the border fence.

In addition, Abu Trifa said that the Egyptian security delegation would continue to conduct rounds between Israel and the terror factions until after Friday, in order to closely monitor the “march of the million” planned for Saturday’s Land Day, which follows Friday’s one-year anniversary of the border fence riots.

Last night, the Egyptian delegation met with Hamas chairman Yahya Sinwar, and conveyed a message from Israel that his organization must stop firing rockets and incendiary balloons, and also stop the demonstrations at the fence.

Sinwar responded that he would only stop firing rockets, and demanded in return that Israel stop attacking the Gaza Strip in response to the balloons carrying explosive charges.

Hamas is expected to respond to Israel’s offer of a truce in the coming hours.

Thursday night, IDF units completed their deployment in the Gaza perimeter, and the fighters are preparing for the demonstrations along the fence on Friday, which should indicate if Hamas is willing to grant Israel’s request for quiet.

Sderot mayor Alon Davidi said on Thursday that “every day that goes by, we understand that eventually there will be an operation in Gaza, because this way we will not be able to continue, it’s clear to everyone.”

Shuttle diplomacy: Egyptian delegation returns to Israel after meeting Hamas in Gaza

March 28, 2019
After presenting terror group’s response to Israeli proposal for calm, team of intelligence officials set to return to Strip for futher consultations as they work towards ending days of fighting between the sides
The Egyptian team tasked with mediating an agreement to end days of fighting in the Gaza Strip continued with its shuttle diplomacy Thursday afternoon, returning to Israel at around 1pm, after meeting with Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups.
The delegation, made up of Egyptian intelligence officials, returned from Gaza via the Erez Crossing, to convey the Hamas response to an Israeli proposal for restoring calm along the border.

IDF tanks on the Gaza border (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)

IDF tanks on the Gaza border (Photo: AP)

The Egyptian team is expected to return to Gaza for further negotiations, following their consultations with Israeli officials.

On Wednesday night, the Egyptian team met at Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s office in Gaza for talks that also included representatives from Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Ismail Haniyeh flashes a victory sign as he stands next to at the rubble of his office building in Gaza City, March 27, 2019
The Egyptians handed Hamas the Israeli proposal, which sources in Gaza told Ynet includes the following terms:

Concessions for Gaza

• Increase in the number of trucks carrying essential supplies entering the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing

• Expanding a temporary employment project by the United Nations to 40,000 people

• Increasing the Gaza fishing zone to 12 nautical miles

• Improving the supply of electricity from Israel to the Gaza Strip

• Easing restrictions on the issue of import and export permits

• Approving the entry into Gaza of some materials currently classified as dual use 

Israeli demands

• End to the nightly confrontations along the border

• Ceasing the coordination for fence protests near Kibbutz Zikim, as well as ending the attempts to sail into Israeli waters in the area

• Guarantees that the demonstration on Saturday will be nonviolent 

A Palestinian woman amid the rubble in the Gaza Strip after IAF strikes on Hamas targets (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)

A Palestinian woman amid the rubble in the Gaza Strip after IAF strikes on Hamas targets (Photo: Reuters)


The Egyptian mediators rushed to the Strip via the Erez Crossing and a senior Hamas leader emerged from his hideout as the unofficial cease-fire between Israel and the terror group appeared to take hold after two days of fighting. The key test will be Saturday, when Hamas holds its demonstration to mark the one-year anniversary of weekly protests along the Israeli border.


In a sign that both sides had stepped back from a major conflagration, Ismail Haniyeh made his first public appearance since violence with Israel erupted earlier this week. During times of fighting, Hamas leaders typically go underground, fearing assassination by Israel.


Israel strikes group launching firebombs from Gaza; three said wounded 

March 28, 2019

Source: Israel strikes group launching firebombs from Gaza; three said wounded – Israel News –

Meanwhile, Netanyahu says Israel will only launch major Gaza campaign after exhausting all options

FILE PHOTO: Balloons carrying incendiary devices are seen floating from the Gaza Strip to Israel, January 8, 2019.
\ Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The Israeli military said on Thursday that it struck a group of Palestinians launching firebombs from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel. Reports in the coastal enclave said three people were wounded in the attack.

The announcements came shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would only launch a major military offensive in the Strip after exhausting all other options.

“I’ve ordered to bolster our forces and to prepare for a major campaign. All Israeli citizens should know that if we need to enter a major offensive, we’ll enter it strong and after exhausting all other options,” he said during a visit on the Gaza border Thursday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Israel-Gaza border, March 28, 2019.
Kobi Gideon / GPO

“We’re operating on several fronts at the same time. Not far from here is the Golan Heights, where President [Donald] Trump recognized our sovereignty over three days ago,” he said, referring to Trump signing a presidential proclamation on the matter Monday. “This is a major achievement for Israel.”

“Beyond the Golan Heights is Syria and also Iran. Iran constantly tries to bring long-range precision missiles into Syria, very advanced and very lethal. We won’t have it and our action against Iran’s attempts to entrench militarily in Syria are ongoing at all times,” the premier said.

On Tuesday night, three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel and the Israel Air Force retaliated with limited attacks on several targets linked to Hamas.

As Haaretz’s Amos Harel writes, if Hamas and Israel do not reach understandings, mediated by Egypt, on mutual restraint, at the end of the week Hamas is expected to march tens of thousands of demonstrators to the Gaza border fence.

The previous times that the organization initiated mass demonstrations over the past year they involved attempts to breach the fence, extensive sniper fire by the Israel Defense Forces and many Palestinian casualties.


Israel Will Continue Military Operations in Syria No Matter What 

March 28, 2019

Source: Israel Will Continue Military Operations in Syria No Matter What – JOL

The Syrian army has claimed that Israel attacked an industrial area in the northern city of Aleppo, causing extensive material damage and leaving seven members of the Iranian armed forces dead.

“The Israeli aggression targeted some positions in the Sheikh Najjar industrial zone and several enemy missiles were shot down,” an army statement said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in response to these reports“We are being credited by foreign media with an air force operation this past night against Iranian forces in Syria,” Katz said. “According to the sources it’s Israel, and according to what the Syrians said and responded it’s Israel. As far as Iran knows it’s Israel.”

Military experts maintain that Aleppo is one of the main areas in which the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has a strong military presence supporting the local militias that for years fought alongside the Syrian army to defeat the insurgents.

Iranian-backed Shiite militias have expanded their control over the mainly Sunni areas around Damascus in southern and eastern Syria, which were most affected by intense Russian and Syrian army bombardment, causing massive displacement and migration to neighboring countries.

Israel, which regards Iran as its greatest threat, has repeatedly attacked Iranian targets and allied militias in Syria, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has disclosed often that Israel has conducted hundreds of attacks in the final years of Syria’s war to restrict Iran and its ally Hezbollah.

As the Israeli elections approach, the Israeli government has increased its attacks on Syria and taken a tougher stance toward Hezbollah on the border with Lebanon.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to respond to Israeli attacks and said that its military presence in Syria is at the invitation of the Assad government and that it does not intend to withdraw.

The attack coincided with an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council that was held at Syria’s request on U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.


Israel said to offer Hamas numerous concessions in return for curbing violence

March 28, 2019

Source: Israel said to offer Hamas numerous concessions in return for curbing violence | The Times of Israel

Egyptian delegation reportedly conveys Jerusalem’s proposal to Palestinian terror groups, but they rule out halting border rallies entirely

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh flashes a 'v for victory' sign on March 27, 2019, next to the rubble of what was once his office in Gaza City, which was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike two days earlier. (Hamas)

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh flashes a ‘v for victory’ sign on March 27, 2019, next to the rubble of what was once his office in Gaza City, which was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike two days earlier. (Hamas)

A delegation of Egyptian mediators and intelligence officials reportedly met Wednesday night and early Thursday morning with the leadership of the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip, conveying an Israeli truce offer after days of violence and ahead of massive rallies planned for the weekend.

This week saw a spike in tensions after a rocket fired from Gaza hit a housein the agricultural community of Mishmeret in central Israel and destroyed it completely, wounding seven people. Israel responded with airstrikes on scores of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian terror groups launched many more rocket at Israeli communities in the Gaza periphery.

Throughout the recent violence, Egyptian military intelligence officials have been working to broker a ceasefire. Violence is expected to soar again over the weekend as large-scale protests are expected along the Israel-Gaza border to mark the one-year anniversary of the so-called March of Return weekly rallies, which started on March 30, 2018.

The Egyptian delegation entered the Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing on Wednesday evening, after meeting with Israeli defense officials who laid out the government’s demands for a ceasefire, according to multiple reports.

The Ynet news site reported that Israel demanded Gaza’s terror groups stop nighttime border riots, halt weekly demonstrations as well as riots at the Zikim beach in northern Gaza, and provide assurances that this weekend’s massive protest will be nonviolent.

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)

In return, according to the report, Jerusalem offered to increase the number of trucks loaded with goods entering Gaza every day through the Kerem Shalom border crossing; ease approvals for imports and exports; support UN employment initiatives in the Strip; expand the permitted fishing zone to 12 nautical miles off the Strip’s coast; and improve electric power supply from Israel.

Two meetings were held at Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s office and lasted until 2 a.m., Ynet reported citing sources in Gaza. The Egyptian delegation is expected to return to Israel Thursday with a response from the Palestinian groups.

According to the report, the terror groups agreed to stop the nighttime demonstrations and to immediately halt the frequent launches of incendiary devices attached to balloons as a “show of good will” toward the Egyptians. However, on Thursday several such incendiary devices landed in Israel.

They also reportedly refused to halt the weekly marches at the border.

Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, speaks to foreign correspondents in his office in Gaza City on Thursday, May 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

“The Egyptians cannot demand a full freeze or cancellation of all the activities, because they understand the factions cannot accept such impositions under Israeli pressure,” a senior member of one of the organizations was quoted as saying by the Haaretz newspaper.

“As long as the residents of Gaza don’t feel an improvement there won’t be real progress in the truce and the situation can explode at any moment,” the source added.

According to a report in Sky News Arabia, Israel outlined a detailed proposal that includes a one-year ceasefire. There were no further details.

A Palestinian uses a slingshot to fling back a tear gas canister thrown by Israeli forces during clashes at the fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on March 8, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Israel said on Wednesday that more than 2,000 violent incidents have emanated from Gaza since the Hamas-orchestrated weekly border demonstrations erupted a year ago.

A review found that Palestinians launched 1,233 rockets from Gaza, hurled 94 explosive devices and 600 Molotov cocktails across the security fence and committed 152 acts of arson against Israeli forces.

The report said rocket-fire killed one person and injured 126. Palestinian attacks on the security fence killed one Israeli soldier and wounded 16.

It said incendiary kites have torched thousands of acres of Israeli farmland, causing over $9.5 million in damage.

Israel has been censured internationally for using disproportionate force against unarmed protesters, but the military says troops only open fire after they come under attack and according to open-fire regulations. Over the past year, nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. Hamas has claimed dozens of them as members.

Since Hamas wrested control of the Gaza Strip from Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in a bloody 2007 coup, Israel has fought three campaigns against the Islamist terror group, which openly seeks Israel’s destruction.

AP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.


Israel signs deal to acquire world’s most advanced cannon 

March 28, 2019

Source: Israel signs deal to acquire world’s most advanced cannon – Israel Hayom

Cannon will automatically select which shell type to fire depending on the target and is set to replace IDF’s existing artillery system over number of years • New system will reduce number of IDF soldiers needed to operate artillery systems in combat.

JNS and Israel Hayom Staff // published on 28/03/2019
Elbit Systems headquarters in Matam, Haifa technology park 

The Defense Ministry has signed a deal with Elbit Systems to develop the world’s most advanced cannon in one of the largest and most intricate military procurement deals in Israeli history.

The cannon will be able to automatically select one of several shell types to fire depending on the target and is ultimately intended to replace the Israel Defense Forces’ existing artillery system over the next several years.

The new system will reduce the number of IDF soldiers necessary to operate artillery systems in combat, and will include mobile cannons, rockets, radars, missile units, training simulators and remote-operated aircraft. The agreement also covers maintenance for 20 years.

Elbit Systems was reported to have orders worth $9.4 billion in the works, a 9% growth in sales from the previous year.


UAE minister encourages Arab openness to relations with Israel 

March 28, 2019

Source: UAE minister encourages Arab openness to relations with Israel – Israel Hayom

“Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision, looking back,” says Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, who foresees single-state solution in “15 years’ time.”

Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff // published on 28/03/2019
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash 

Relations between Arab states and Israel need to shift to help progress towards peace with the Palestinians, a senior United Arab Emirates official was quoted on Thursday as saying.

The decision by many Arab countries not to talk with Israel has complicated finding a solution over the decades, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said, according to Abu Dhabi-based daily The National.

“Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision, looking back,” Gargash said, in unusually candid remarks.

“Because clearly, you have to really dissect and divide between having a political issue and keeping your lines of communication open,” he added.

His comments came after the UAE and other Gulf states criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition this week of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

They also followed a visit last month by Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner to Gulf Arab states to seek support for the economic portion of a long-awaited U.S. proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Gulf Arab states host U.S. troops and are important for Washington’s regional defense policy.

Israel has formal diplomatic relations with only two Arab states, neighboring Egypt and Jordan.

But Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev visited Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque last year and fellow Gulf state Oman hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a surprise trip, the first time an Israeli leader had visited the sultanate in 22 years.

Israel sees Arab states as its natural allies against regional adversary Iran. But many in the Arab world resist following Jordan’s and Egypt’s lead as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved.

Gargash said he expected increased contact between Arab countries and Israel through small bilateral deals and visits by politicians and athletic delegations. Israeli athletes won gold in an Abu Dhabi judo competition in October, and its national anthem was played.

“The strategic shift needs actually for us to progress on the peace front,” Gargash said.

“What we are facing, if we continue on the current trajectory, I think the conversation in 15 years’ time will really be about equal rights in one state,” he added, alluding to a possible fusion of the Israeli and Palestinian polities in place of the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

He said this conversation was currently on the margins but this would change.

“A two-state solution will no longer be feasible because a sort of reduced rump [Palestinian] state will no longer be practical,” Gargash added.