Archive for April 6, 2019

Hamas: In next war, Israel has to evacuate Ashdod, Ashkelon and Tel Aviv

April 6, 2019

Yahya Sinwar said that despite the recent ceasefire understandings with Israel, the Palestinians will continue to protest near the border with Israel.

By Khaled Abu Toameh
April 6, 2019 17:30
The son of senior Hamas militant Mazen Fuqaha sits on the shoulders of Hamas Gaza Chief Yahya Al-Sinwar as Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) gestures during a memorial service for Fuqaha, in Gaza City March 27, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

In the next war between Hamas and Israel, the Israelis will have to evacuate not only their “settlements” near the border with the Gaza Strip, but also Ashdod, Ashkelon, the Negev and Tel Aviv, Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, threatened on Saturday.

He said that despite the recent ceasefire understandings with Israel, the Palestinians will continue to protest near the border with Israel.

Sinwar, who was speaking to representatives of Palestinian factions and civil society organizations in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave, said that his movement will continue to be ready for war with Israel to “defend the Palestinian people.” Hamas, he said, will be a “shield and sword” for the Palestinians.

Sinwar said that if a war is “imposed” on the Gaza Strip, Israel will “suffer.” He added: “I pledge that the occupation will evacuate its settlements not only in the ‘Gaza Envelope,’ but also in Ashdod, the Negev, Ashkelon and even Tel Aviv. Remember this pledge. The fingers of the resistance in the Gaza Strip are on the trigger. We are today ten times stronger than we were in 2014 (a reference to the war in the Gaza Strip –Operation Protective Shield).”

Regarding the ceasefire understandings with Israel, Sinwar said that Hamas did not pay any “political price.” The understandings, he said, “have no prices or political dimensions.”

He further said that the understandings were not connected to any prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel or the issue of the weapons of Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

“The understandings are not an alternative to Palestinian unity and partnership,” the Hamas leader explained. “There is no talk about the Palestinian right to resistance in all its forms, especially in the West Bank. Also, there is not talk about halting the March of Return.”

The March of Return is the name Palestinians use to describe the weekly protests near the border with Israel. The protests began in March 2018.

Sinwar praised Egypt for its role in “easing restrictions” imposed on the Gaza Strip.

“We have strengthened our relations with Egypt,” he said. “The Egyptians have thankfully played a big role in the easing of the restrictions.”

Hamas claims that the Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire understandings include the expansion of the fishing zone, reopening border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel, the delivery of additional Qatari funds, launching various humanitarian and economic projects in the coastal enclave and solving the power shortage.

The Hamas leader boasted that his movement has been successful in thwarting attempts to instigate unrest in the Gaza Strip. He was referring to recent anti-Hamas protests that erupted in various parts of the Gaza Strip to protest economic hardship. Hamas security forces used brutal force to squash the protests, arresting, beating and shooting scores of Palestinians.

“During the last year, Hamas, together with our people, has scored a number of achievements,” Sinwar said. “The most prominent achievement has been the foiling of all attempts to destabilize civil peace in the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas leaders have accused their rivals in Fatah and the Palestinian Authority of being behind the protests. They claim that the protests were part of a “conspiracy” to end the Hamas-rule in the Gaza Strip. Fatah and PA officials have dismissed the charges.

Sinwar also praised the ongoing protests near the border with Israel and said they have placed the issue of the Gaza Strip blockade on the world’s agenda.

Off Topic –  Good news for Netanyahu: Last pre-election poll puts Likud, Blue and White even 

April 6, 2019

Source: Good news for Netanyahu: Last pre-election poll puts Likud, Blue and White even | The Times of Israel

( Crossing my fingers.  I believe he has proven to be the best PM in Israel’s history. – JW )

Right-wing, ultra-Orthodox bloc forecast to win majority in all final surveys, leaving Netanyahu well-placed to retain power, though several show Gantz’s party ahead of Likud

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Benny Gantz, right. (Hadas Parush/Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and challenger Benny Gantz’s Blue and White were neck-and-neck in a poll released Friday evening, setting up a frantic end to election campaigns as parties worked to shore up their support before Israelis vote on April 9.

Overall, right-wing and religious parties received 66 seats in the poll, versus 54 for the center-left and Arab parties, mirroring the results of all major surveys released in recent days and again suggesting that Netanyahu will have an easier route to building a governing majority.

The survey, aired by Channel 13 news, was the last of the campaign for the 21st Knesset, with Israeli election law barring the publication of further polls after Friday.

Likud and Blue and White were dead even with 28 seats in the poll, after a survey released earlier in the week by the network gave the former a one-seat lead.

Following the two parties in the poll was the opposition Labor Party with 11 seats, similar to the total it received in other surveys this week.

Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay tours the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, on April 3, 2019, ahead of general elections for the Knesset. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

After Labor was the Union of Right-Wing Parties, an alliance of the national-religious Jewish Home and National Union factions with the extremist Otzma Yehudit, with seven seats.

Hadash-Ta’al, a merger of two parties from the outgoing Knesset’s Joint (Arab) List, had six seats in the poll, as did maverick former Likud lawmaker Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut, the nationalist New Right and the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism.

The ultra-Orthodox Shas party and left-wing Meretz each received five seats, while Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s center-right Kulanu, hawkish former defense minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu and the Ra’am-Balad alliance of Arab factions each received four seats.

Asked their preference for prime minister, 46 percent of poll respondents said Netanyahu, 37% said Gantz and 17% said they did not know.

The poll was conducted for the network by pollster Camil Fuchs and included 858 respondents. The margin of error was 3.4%.

While Channel 13 had Likud and Blue and White polling even, and a pair of other polls had one or the other leading by a single seat, three separate surveys gave Gantz’s party a 4-5 seat advantage.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to supporters from his Likud party at his official residence in Jerusalem on April 5, warning them that Likud could lose the elections, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

In light of those results, Netanyahu issued an appeal Friday to right-wing voters to back Likud, warning it “is in danger” of losing its hold on power.

Encouraging voters from fellow right-wing parties to throw their support behind Likud could prove to be a risky strategy for Netanyahu, as a subsequent failure by one or more of them to clear the minimum electoral threshold could deprive the premier of a majority needed to form a ruling coalition.

Blue and White no. 2 Yair Lapid said in an interview with The Times of Israel on Thursday that if the party receives at least four seats more than Likud, it will get the first shot at putting together a government after Tuesday’s vote, a sentiment that has been echoed by Netanyahu.


What Is Behind the Opposition to Peace with Israel?

April 6, 2019