Thursday, February 06, 2020

From Ian:

As String of Palestinian Attacks Leaves 16 Israelis Wounded, Netanyahu Vows ‘Terrorism Will Not Defeat Us’
A string of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Thursday left 16 Israelis wounded.

“Terrorism will not defeat us — we will win,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the surge of violence.

In the first incident, 14 IDF soldiers were injured — one seriously — in an early Thursday morning car-ramming assault at the old train station on David Remez Street in the Israeli capital.

The perpetrator fled the area and the vehicle used in the attack was later found south of Jerusalem, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Later on Thursday, an Israeli Border Police officer was lightly wounded by a gunman in Jerusalem’s Old City, near the Temple Mount.

The assailant — an Israeli Arab from the northern city of Haifa who had recently converted to Islam from Christianity — was killed at the scene.

This was followed after a few hours by a shooting at a guard post at a junction on Route 463 in the Binyamin region of the West Bank, north of Jerusalem.

One IDF soldier was lightly hurt. The attacker escaped.

The Israeli military is sending reinforcements to the Jerusalem and West Bank sectors, in a bid to thwart further attacks.

Evelyn Gordon: Trump's plan takes Resolution 242 seriously
The plan's limited version of Palestinian sovereignty derives from the need for defensible borders as well, since as the past quarter-century has shown, Palestinian military control over territory means kissing Israeli security goodbye. The Palestinian Authority was able to wage the Second Intifada – which killed more than 1,100 Israelis, 78 percent of them civilians, including through suicide bombings in major Israeli cities – because the Oslo Accords barred the Israel Defense Forces from entering P.A. territory. Only after the IDF reasserted control over those areas did the terror wane. Similarly, the IDF's absence from Gaza is what has allowed Palestinians to fire more than 20,000 rockets at Israel from that territory, even as not one rocket has ever been launched from the West Bank.

Having learned this lesson, Trump's plan assigns security control of the West Bank solely to Israel. And again, this used to be an Israeli consensus before Oslo fever took hold; even Rabin, in his final speech, envisioned a Palestinian "entity which is less than a state."

One could obviously quibble with certain details of the plan; for instance, the idea of leaving some settlements as enclaves in Palestinian territory sounds like a security nightmare. One could even legitimately wonder, given the experience of the last 25 years, whether any kind of Palestinian state is compatible with Israel's security.

Nevertheless, Trump's plan is the first serious attempt to give Israel what Resolution 242 promised more than 50 years ago – borders that are not only recognized, but secure. As such, far from "violating UN resolutions," it's actually the first plan that doesn't violate them.

This provides Israel and its allies with a golden opportunity to remind the world that contrary to what is widely believed today, UN resolutions and "internationally agreed parameters" originally promised Israel defensible borders. Thus all the plans that broke this promise are the ones that ought to be deemed illegitimate – not the one plan that finally seeks to keep it.
The Arabs And Europeans React To Trump’s Middle East ‘Vision’
It takes time for attitudes to change, and changing attitudes in the Middle East is a tough proposition. Moving the Europeans may prove harder.

An Israeli general once told this story (I was there):

The Israeli general commanded a unit that crossed the Suez Canal in 1973 after repulsing Egypt’s surprise Yom Kippur War attack. In his headquarters, he received a message that purported to be from an Egyptian general, telling him to come — alone — in a jeep to a certain spot in the desert and “hear something.” The general told the group, “I was sure I was going to die, but I did it.” The Egyptian proved to be the chief of the Egyptian general staff and he, too, was alone.

The Egyptian said, “The war is over.”

The Israeli general said, “Yes. I know.”

The Egyptian general sighed, “Not this war. In 1948, Egypt was within 11 miles of Tel Aviv and you pushed us back. In 1956, you drove through Sinai — but it wasn’t fair because you had the French and the British. In 1967, you did it again — by yourselves. Now you have crossed the Suez Canal and are 99 kilometers from Cairo. I’m here to tell you that you won’t get any closer. The war is over.”

He got back in his jeep and left.

The Israeli returned to his headquarters and told the story to the general staff in Tel Aviv. “No one believed me,” the Israeli said.

But it was true. The Egyptian government had determined that fighting, losing, and regrouping was not a plan. In 1979, Anwar Sadat went to Jerusalem, and in so doing met Israel’s primary condition for peace — recognition of Israel as a legitimate and permanent state in the region, entitled to “secure and recognized boundaries, free from threats or acts of force” (the language of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242). Today, Egypt and Israel cooperate on energy, security (including for the Gaza Strip), and trade.

In the broader Arab world, it is taking longer. Unable to countenance Jewish sovereignty in the region, the Arabs went to war in 1948 to erase it. They failed. They tried again in 1967. They failed again. After that war, an Arab League Summit convened in Sudan and issued what became known as the Khartoum Resolution: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.”

Where Is the Palestinian Vision of Peace?
The Trump plan also challenges a key premise on the Palestinian side: that Palestinian leaders can continue to reject peace plans without paying a political price.

The trajectory of peace offers over the decades tells a stark story: with each Palestinian rejection, the map of a potential sovereign Palestine shrinks. Arguably no national movement has rejected offers for statehood more often than the Palestinians – from the 1937 Peel Commission, which offered the Palestinians 80 percent of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea including the West Bank, through the 1947 UN partition plan offering 45%, through President Bill Clinton’s December 2000 offer of 22%. Each of those plans was endorsed by the mainstream Zionist and Israeli leadership. The Trump Plan has further reduced the map.

It is long past time for Palestinian leaders to do what they have never done in the history of this conflict: offer their own detailed peace plan. We know what Palestinian leaders oppose; but what exactly do they support? Beyond the repetition of the formula of “two states along the 1967 borders,” what is the Palestinian position on refugees, land swaps, settlement blocs, holy places?

Some defenders of the Palestinian leadership cite the Saudi Peace Plan of 2002, which the Palestinian Authority endorsed. But the Saudi plan – hastily conceived to deflect American criticism of the Saudis following the September 11 atrocities, and presented to Israel as a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum – is vague on precisely those details, like refugee return, that require a clear Palestinian position.

The long history of Palestinian rejection of peace offers, sometimes followed by waves of terrorism, has left Israelis deeply skeptical of Palestinian intentions. Israelis across the political spectrum fear that a West Bank Palestinian state could fall to the radical Islamist Hamas, which would launch rockets and other terror attacks against Israeli cities, as it routinely does from Gaza. With Iranian forces in Syria and pro-Iranian terror groups entrenched on Israel’s northern and southern borders, a hostile Palestine would complete the country’s encirclement. Given the region’s instability, few Israelis are prepared to risk that option anytime soon.

To once again commit to a resolution of the conflict, Israelis need to hear an unambiguous Palestinian vision of peace. At the same time, Palestinians need to hear an Israeli reaffirmation of our past commitment to a viable Palestinian state. Legitimate Israeli security fears are no excuse for taking steps – like Netanyahu’s intention to unilaterally annex settlements – that undermine the long-term prospects for a two-state solution. The Trump plan reminds us that unrestrained settlement building is unacceptable even to our friends. In this painful moment when a solution seems more elusive than ever, both sides need to reexamine the illusions that shape our discourse over peace.

Former US governor slams Israel, Trump plan, 'what it means to be a Jew'
Former governor of Vermont and one time Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean sought to lecture Jews on what it means to be Jewish on Tuesday. Remarking on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s role in US President Donald Trump’s peace plan he tweeted, “in other words, Israel embraces ethnic cleansing. This is a complete betrayal of Tikkun Olam [fixing the world] and a betrayal of what it means to be a Jew.” Dean sought the Democratic nomination in 2004.

It’s not the first time Dean has sought to tell Jews what it means for them to be Jewish. In July 2019 he slammed Israel for “losing its soul and purpose,” claiming that “the nobility of the Jewish people conferred by their terrible suffering is being squandered by cheap, bigoted, political crooks.”

Dean does not tweet similar things about other minority groups, for instance attacking Armenians for what Armenia does or the Irish for Ireland’s policies or Chinese-Americans for China’s actions. He doesn’t appear to lecture other religious groups on the meaning of their religion either, such as telling Buddhists or Muslims what “it means” to be a member of their faith or born into the group.

A search of Dean’s other tweets reveals a growing obsession with American Jews. In October 2019, he wrote with interest in Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, “I know he would create an opportunity to improve Israel’s standing among young American Jews.”
MEMRI: Senior Saudi Journalist Following Meeting Between Leaders Of Sudan And Israel: Sudan's Action Is Understandable; Many Arab Countries Hold Ties With Israel
News of the February 3, 2020 meeting between Sudanese Sovereignty Council Chairman 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Burhan and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sparked criticism in the Palestinian and Arab media. Responding to this criticism, Saudi journalist 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed. formerly the editor of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and the director of Al-Arabiya TV, expressed understanding for Al-Burhan's motives in forming ties with Israel. He noted that that the Sudanese leader is acting to remove his country from US and international terror lists, and that many other Arab states, including Qatar and even the Palestinian Authority, likewise hold ties with Israel because it suits their interests. The attack on Al-Burhan within Sudan is unjustified, he said, and stems from narrow political motives of the Muslim Brotherhood, which lost power in the country about a year ago.

The following is his article, as published in the English-language edition of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.[1]
"In our region things are not always what they seem, as in the case of the intense attack against Sudan and the chairman of its Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, under the pretext of his meeting with the Israeli prime minister in Uganda.

"The main driver behind this attack is none other than the Muslim Brotherhood, which lost power in Sudan last year. Its members are disgruntled because the Sudanese authorities began to uproot thousands of them from the educational, security and economic institutions that the Brotherhood took over during the rule of the previous regime.

"Sudan, like other countries, faces serious challenges that cannot be taken lightly, and it cannot act against its supreme interests. We cannot lose sight of the fact that more than half of all Arab countries — including Tunisia, Qatar, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and others — have dealt with Israel.

"We also cannot forget that some officials of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which was previously boycotted by some Arab states on the pretext that it had concluded a deal with Israel, are making the same mistake.
Political bullying against Arab governments in the name of Palestine or Israel is unacceptable. Everyone is tired of this declining political rhetoric, which had the audacity to criticize states without taking into account their circumstances and necessities. States have their supreme interests, and sovereign decisions are not to be decided on Twitter. Nor should they be pressured by those who have personal whims or interests.
D.C.-Based Political Analyst Ruwan Al-Rejoleh: The Palestinian Issue Has Come to An End
D.C.-based Syrian political analyst Ruwan Al-Rejoleh said in a January 28, 2020 interview on France 24 TV that the split between the Palestinian youth and the Palestinian leadership is the reason that U.S. President Donald Trump said that his Middle East peace plan is realistic. She elaborated that the unemployment rates in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are 45% and 13%, respectively, and she said that the Palestinian issue has “come to an end” and transformed into a mostly economic matter rather than a political one. Al-Rejoleh said that the Palestinian youth should have a revolution similar to the recent uprisings in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria in order to bring down their corrupt leadership. In addition, she said that Hamas, Fatah, and the Palestinian leadership have a share in the blame for the situation being as it is. She added that the issue doesn’t boil down to the Palestinians’ demands without them making any concessions.

MEMRI: Qatar, Qatar-Backed International Union Of Muslim Scholars Blast Trump's Peace Plan: It Belongs In the Dustbin Of History, Must Be Opposed By Every Possible Means
In its official responses to the Trump administration's peace plan, which was announced on January 28, 2020 and has been dubbed "the Deal of the Century," Qatar welcomed the U.S. efforts to achieve peace and expressed willingness to assist in these efforts, but at the same time voiced reservations and implied criticism of the plan. A statement issued by Qatar's Foreign Ministry following the plan's announcement said that "Qatar welcomes the efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace in the occupied Palestinian territories, and appreciates the efforts of the current U.S. administration to find solutions for the Palestinian issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict." The statement stressed, however, that a solution for the conflict requires the involvement of both the Palestinians and the Israelis; must include a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as the return the refugees to their lands, and must be anchored in the relevant UN resolutions: "The success of any existing or future initiative for resolving this conflict, which has been ongoing for over seven decades, continues to depend on the involvement of the two major sides in this conflict in direct and serious negotiations based on the [relevant] UN resolutions... Qatar clarifies that peace will not be viable unless it [ensures] the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent, sovereign state on the 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem, and [guarantees] the return of the refugees to their lands..."[1]

On the day following the plan's announcement, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Aal Thani, spoke on the phone with Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas, and clarified Qatar's support for Palestine and its willingness to act towards "the achievement of a just, comprehensive and viable solution to the Palestinian issue, based on the UN resolutions and the [2002] Arab Peace Initiative."[2] In an emergency meeting of the Arab foreign ministers held in Cairo on February 1 following the announcement of the peace plan, Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Sa'd Al-Muraikhi reiterated the position set out in the Foreign Ministry's statement.[3]

The Qatari press, both inside and outside Qatar, was conspicuous in its opposition to the Trump administration's peace plan and was harshly critical of it. The articles rejected the U.S. initiative out of hand, stating that it is blatantly biased in favor of Israel, and attacked Trump for proposing it. They also attacked what they called the feeble reaction of the Arab world to the plan, and even called to oppose the plan using every type of resistance. The writers assessed that it is destined to fail, and Qatar's state press published numerous articles quoting analysts, both Qatari and foreign, making predictions to this effect.[4] Criticism of the plan, of Trump and of the Arab reaction was also expressed in cartoons that appeared in the Qatari press published inside and outside the country.[5]
MEMRI: Afghan Taliban Statements On Donald Trump's Peace Plan For Palestine: 'Zionist Terrorists Are Supported By The Tyrants Of This Age (America)'
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban organization) has issued the following two statements opposing the peace plan announced by U.S. President Donald Trump for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and establishing an independent Palestinian state.

"The Radical Zio-Crusader Leaders Like Benjamin Netanyahu And Donald Trump Should Know That Palestine Is Not Forgotten By The Rest Of The Ummah"

Excerpts from the January 30, 2020 statement:
"Our Holy Prophet [Muhammad] Peace Be Upon Him said, as narrated in [the books of his traditions] Muslim and Bukhari: Believers in their mutual love, compassion and mercy are like one body; when any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever (Bukhari).

"It is for this reason that today the troubles of Muslims living in Palestine are the troubles of everyone who calls himself a believer. The conflict of Palestine, which began in the twentieth century, continues at a time when the filthy Zionists are getting the support of the tyrannical forces like America to continue their occupation of the Muslim lands in Palestine, a land holding the third most holiest site of Islam and the former Qibla of Muslims – Bait al-Maqdis.

"The Zionist terrorists are supported by the tyrants of this age (America) who continue to work for destabilizing the middle eastern Muslim countries and for the past 53 years, the Muslims of Palestine have suffered and are struggling for their freedom against this Zio-Crusader oppression. The whole world is witness to the crimes and terrorism of the Zionists in Palestine who have ethnically cleansed and committed genocide against the Palestinian Muslims to usurp their homeland. They have taken the lands and destroyed the homes and mosques of the local Palestinians and have been killing them systematically in their own land. From adults to young children, no one has been spared and thousands of others are languishing in the concentration camps.

Who's afraid of a Palestinian state? The Palestinians
Arab Israelis, who are concerned by fact that the US recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and moved its embassy there, ​​and the Arab parties, which often openly oppose the state, were presented with a choice: Which side do you wish to belong to – the "Israeli occupation" or the "future state of Palestine"?

They clearly prefer to be part of Israel and not part of the homeland they long for.

All this only proves to what extent Arabs Israelis do not trust the Palestinian leadership to provide them with the security and quality of life they enjoy as Israeli citizens. Arab Israelis prove, in their own way, that the parameters outlined in the American peace plan are not meant to serve Israel's interest, but rather first and foremost to ensure the safety of the Palestinians.

No Palestinian wants to live in a country that may as well be the Wild West, even if said Wild West is supposed to embody their national aspirations.

Ironically, Arab Israelis have all but told Abbas as much: We see no reason to establish a Palestinian state before you can prove we can live there safely and without fear, as we do in Israel.

The Americans understand this, Arab Israelis understand this, and now the Israeli Left must also understand that this plan succeeded in altering the paradigms of Israel vis-à-vis the Palestinians, but also of the Palestinians among themselves and between Arab Israelis and the Palestinians.

This is the best possible outcome we could have wished for – the State of Israel has become popular among voters supporting the Arab parties – the same ones who have long since ceased to represent them in lieu of representing Abbas and his interests.

It cannot be overlooked that President Trump's peace plan is the best way for Israel to achieve all of its security aspirations in the long-term and its sovereignty aspirations in the immediate term. However, there is no real basis for the claim that the plan is solely "pro-Israeli" as it is clearly "pro-Palestinian-civilian" as well.
UK’s Johnson Backs Trump’s Mideast Peace Effort, Reiterates Opposition to Unilateral Annexation
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his support on Thursday for the Trump administration’s bid to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Johnson spoke by phone with his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday, and the two “discussed the United States’ proposals for peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” a 10 Downing Street statement said.

Johnson “reiterated his support for US efforts,” the statement noted.

The British leader also “underlined the UK’s longstanding view on the importance of a two-state solution, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both sides, and our opposition to the unilateral annexation of territory,” the statement continued.

Furthermore, Johnson and Netanyahu were said to have agreed that “we should continue to strengthen our bilateral relationship following the UK’s departure from the EU, including in areas such as trade.”
Palestinians float UN resolution against Trump peace plan
The Palestinian Authority is proposing a United Nations Security Council resolution denouncing the US administration’s peace plan, saying it violates international law.

The draft will likely be voted on Tuesday, in the presence of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. It has virtually zero chances of being adopted, due to the expected US veto. The peace plan, which was presented by US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, explicitly states that Washington will veto any attempt to condemn it at the UN.

Still, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, on Wednesday lashed out at the Palestinians. “Enough with the shows already. Instead of coming to the UN, come to the negotiating table,” he said in a statement.

Danon has been busy for the last few days engaging with his counterparts on the Security Council “to enlist their support for the joint US-Israeli action and to prevent support for any Palestinian declarations of protest,” the Israeli UN mission said in a statement.

France, Russia, China, Tunisia, Indonesia, Niger and South Africa are sure to support the resolution. Belgium, Estonia and Vietnam can also be expected to support the text. It is unclear how the remaining states on the 15-member council will vote.
Olmert, Abbas to host joint press conference against Trump peace plan
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas will hold a joint press conference in opposition to US President Donald Trump's peace plan, according to Israel's Channel 12.

"Olmert will hold a joint press conference with [Abbas] during a UN Security Council meeting in New York, where he will express his opposition to Trump's plan," Hadashot reporter Ehud Ya'ari said.

The peace plan, known as the "Deal of the Century," was unveiled in late January and has faced opposition by the Left and the Palestinians.

NY Times Corrects Green Line Not “Drawn in 1967”
After the New York Times inaccurately described the Green Line as a border “drawn in 1967,” CAMERA secured a correction from the paper.

In their Jan. 29 story about the recently announced American peace plan, reporters Michael Crowley, Peter Baker and David M. Halbfinger referred to “decades of American support for only modest adjustments to Israeli borders drawn in 1967.”

The boundary they describe is actually the 1949 armistice line that separated Jordanian and Israeli soldiers, and that runs between Israel and the West Bank. As the newspaper’s Feb. 5 correction puts it,

An article last Wednesday about the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan referred incorrectly to proposed adjustments to Israeli boundaries. The plan proposes significant changes to Israel’s pre-1967 borders; the borders in question were not drawn in 1967.

Although the correction continues to refer to the line as a “border,” the armistice line was not intended to be a political border, and it was never a border between two sovereign countries.

BBC WS radio promotes US peace plan commentary from partisan lobbying group
As we saw previously the January 28th evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ – presented by Tim Franks – had the US administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan, which had been launched a few hours earlier, as its “main story”.

Listeners had already heard from a BBC correspondent in Washington and from one of the authors of the initiative, Jason Greenblatt, at the beginning of the programme and subsequently they heard over four minutes of diatribe from the Palestinian Authority’s Husam Zomlot.

Later on in the programme (from 45:07 here) Franks brought in another negative commentator, using the well-worn but absurd BBC claim that resolution of the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel would mean “Middle East peace”.

Franks: “And back to our main story this hour: President Trump unveiling what he calls his ultimate deal for Middle East peace and saying he hasn’t just won the unequivocal support of the Israeli prime minister but also of the man who wants to take over from Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister, the leader of the main opposition party in Israel, Benny Gantz. What about the view elsewhere in Washington? Logan Bayroff is communications director for J Street which describes itself as the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans. What’s his reaction to Donald Trump’s plan?”

No effort was made to adhere to BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality by providing information beyond that self-composed definition of J Street and so listeners heard no objective description of the lobbying group’s “affiliations, funding and particular viewpoints” which would have helped them put later claims from Logan Bayroff into perspective.
A review of the impartiality of BBC radio coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan
As we see, the BBC chose to provide airtime to Palestinian officials while no interviews with Israeli officials were included in any of the programmes and one interview with a former US official was heard on each of the two stations. Interviews were conducted with two Israeli representatives from think tanks (one neutral and one negative), three representatives from US or UK think tanks (one neutral, two negative), two US-Palestinian academics (both negative), one representative of a political NGO (negative) and one lobbying group representative (negative).

The majority of reports from the BBC’s own staff presented a negative view of the topic.

Both those BBC radio stations gave audiences were given an overwhelmingly one-sided view of the US peace initiative (in all twelve times more negative views than positive ones), starting even before it had been published. “Due weight” was not given to opinions dissenting from the BBC’s chosen framing of the topic and audiences did not hear a balanced “range of views”.

The purpose of the editorial guidelines is of course to enable the BBC to meet its public purpose obligations, including the provision of “duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of […] the wider world”. In this case it is once again abundantly obvious that BBC journalists were far more intent on establishing a specific narrative than they were committed to providing accurate and impartial news reports offering a “wide range of significant views”.

12 soldiers wounded, 1 seriously, in suspected terror car-ramming in Jerusalem
At least 12 soldiers were wounded, including one seriously, in a suspected car-ramming terror attack in Jerusalem early Thursday morning, police and medics said.

The incident occurred shortly before 2 a.m. on Jerusalem’s David Remez Street near the First Station, a popular entertainment hub. Police said the driver of the vehicle fled the scene and “a large force of officers were carrying out searches.”

The car was later found abandoned in the town of Beit Jala outside Bethlehem, but the driver remained at large as of Thursday morning, police said.

The military initially barred publication of the fact that the victims were soldiers until the families of the wounded could be notified.

IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said the troops were members of the Golani Brigade who were at the First Station during a “heritage tour” ahead of an early morning swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall.

Magen David Adom medics said one of the wounded “was in a serious condition, unconscious and suffering major trauma.”
Terrorist in Jerusalem ramming attack caught by security forces
The terrorist who carried out a ramming attack in Jerusalem during the early hours of Thursday morning was arrested by Israeli security forces on Thursday evening.

"Following an extensive IDF operational and intelligence effort in cooperation with the ISA, Israeli police and other special units, the forces arrested the terrorist who carried out the terror attack in Jerusalem this morning," the IDF Spokesperson's Unit stated on Thursday evening. "The terrorist was taken for interrogation."

Twelve Israeli soldiers were wounded in a vehicular ramming attack in central Jerusalem just before 2 a.m. The Golani soldiers passing by the First Station, a popular entertainment spot on the city’s David Remez Street, during a heritage tour ahead of their swearing in ceremony at the Western Wall.

IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen Hildai Zilberman said that they had been walking on the sidewalk when the vehicle came from behind and struck them at high speed. The soldiers were not able to shoot at the driver before he fled the scene of the attack.

“This happened in seconds,” Zilberman said.

One of the soldiers, aged 20, was evacuated in critical condition to Shaare Zedek Medical Center. The others were lightly injured and evacuated to hospital.

The suspect's car was found near Beit Jala, sparking a manhunt throughout Thursday.
IDF beefs up troops in West Bank as Palestinian terror attacks continue
The IDF beefed up troops in the West Bank after a spate of terrorist attacks on Thursday, including a drive-by shooting near the settlement of Dolev that injured an Israeli soldier. It was the third attack against IDF troops in less than 12 hours.

The soldier was lightly injured in the shooting attack against a military post before the assailant fled the scene.
Earlier on Thursday, a border police officer was lightly wounded in an attack on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City just hours after 12 Israeli soldiers were wounded, including one critically, in a suspected vehicular ramming attack in central Jerusalem.

According to police, the man from northern Israel opened fire with a 9mm pistol at officers from outside the Temple Mount area, lightly injuring one of them. Unconfirmed Hebrew media reports said the man, from the Haifa area, had recently converted to Islam.
Police officer lightly hurt in shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Old City
A Border Police officer was lightly injured in a shooting attack in the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday, police said, amid growing tension in the capital and the West Bank.

The assailant was shot dead by other officers at the scene, police said.

The incident occurred outside the Temple Mount, between the King Faisal Gate, also known as the Gate of Darkness, and the Lions Gate, Israeli officials said.

“An assailant approached officers who were stationed near the Lions Gate, and opened fire at them,” police said.

“Other officers responded quickly, firing at the assailant and neutralizing him,” police said.

Police later confirmed that the attacker was an Israeli citizen from northern Israel.

The shooting attack came hours after a car-ramming in the capital earlier in the day in which 12 soldiers were injured, one of them seriously, and following significant clashes in Jenin during the demolition of a terrorist’s home in the West Bank city.
Soldier hurt in West Bank shooting, in third attack of day
At least one soldier was lightly wounded in a shooting along a highway in the central West Bank on Thursday, the third attack on Israeli security forces of the day, the military said.

The soldier was hospitalized with light injuries to his head, according to authorities.

The attack came amid a significant spike in tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, with a pair of attacks on security forces in Jerusalem, a deadly clash in Jenin, and continuing launches of projectiles and incendiary devices from Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces said a gunman opened fire at a group of soldiers who were stationed near the Parsa Junction outside the Dolev settlement, northwest of Ramallah on Thursday afternoon.

The troops opened fire at the suspect and launched a manhunt to find him.

“A terrorist shot at IDF troops were in the area. An IDF soldier was lightly injured from the gunfire and was taken to the hospital for treatment,” the military said.

“IDF soldiers responded with gunfire at the terrorist and began searching for him.”
Police sappers called in Ashkelon as suspected balloon-borne bomb found
Police sappers were scrambled in the coastal city of Ashkelon on Thursday after a suspected explosive device was found tied to a bunch of balloons.

Police called on the public to alert authorities to any suspicious-looking objects and refrain from approaching them.

The past week has seen near-daily rocket and mortar attacks and dozens of balloon-borne explosive devices launched from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel, generally landing in or near communities closer to the Hamas-ruled enclave.

Rocket sirens blared in the community of Yated in the Eshkol region in southern Israel near the Gaza border earlier on Thursday morning in what the military said was a false alarm, hours after mortar shells were fired toward the area from the Strip, prompting retaliatory Israeli airstrikes on Hamas targets in the enclave.

The military said it was investigating what triggered the false alarm. In the past such incidents have occurred due to explosions or gunfire near the border, which were picked up by Israeli sensors.
Palestinians fire 2 mortars into Israel; IDF hits targets in southern Gaza
Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired two mortar shells at southern Israel on Wednesday night, the military said, amid growing tensions in the enclave.

The projectiles apparently struck an open field in southern Israel. No damage or injuries were reported.

Shortly after midnight, Israeli aircraft responded by hitting Hamas tunnel infrastructure in southern Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces said, adding that this was in response to both the mortar attack and to a number of balloon-borne explosive devices that were flown into southern Israel from Gaza throughout the day.

As the mortar shells were heading toward an unpopulated area, no rocket sirens were triggered in Israeli communities, though alerts were sent to cellphones in the vicinity of the impact area, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The past week has seen near-daily rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, during which dozens of balloon-borne explosive devices were also launched from the Hamas-ruled Strip toward southern Israel.
Palestinian Authority police officer shot by IDF in Jenin dies of wounds
A Palestinian Authority police officer succumbed to his wounds on Thursday afternoon after he was shot by Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Jenin in what the military said were unclear circumstances.

Around the time of his death, Palestinians shared video footage on social media of the moment the officer — Staff Sgt. Tareq Badwan, 25 — was hit by Israeli fire, apparently showing that he was standing in uniform inside a police station in Jenin at the time and did not appear to be a threat to the Israeli soldiers operating in the city.

Badwan was the second Palestinian security officer killed in Jenin overnight. Yazan Abu Tabikh, 19, a PA police cadet, was also shot dead during clashes that broke out in the city during the IDF’s demolition of a terrorist’s home in the predawn hours of Thursday morning, according to Palestinian officials.

The Israeli military on Thursday morning said Badwan was shot by Israeli troops, though it was not immediately clear why, and that it would be investigating the matter. The IDF did not acknowledge shooting Abu Tabikh specifically, but said that generally all of the events of Thursday morning were being reviewed.
Abbas blames rash of attacks on Trump peace plan; Hamas praises ‘revolution’
The office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said a major escalation in West Bank violence Thursday was the fault of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, which was unveiled last week.

Attackers in Jerusalem and West Bank targeted Israeli forces in three incidents on Thursday, and significant clashes took place in Jenin during the demolition of a terrorist’s home. Violence around Gaza also continued to spiral.

The so-called “deal of the century” has “created this atmosphere of escalation and tension by trying to impose fake facts on the ground, which we have repeatedly warned against,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Abbas’s spokesperson, in a statement posted on the PA official site Wafa.

“Any deal that does not meet the rights of our people and does not aim to make a just and comprehensive peace will inevitably lead to this escalation that we are witnessing today,” the statement said. “The Palestinian people and their leadership will stand strong against all these conspiracies and they will foil them just as they did in all previous conspiracies, regardless of the sacrifices.”

“The Palestinian leadership will deal with every scheme like we blocked the earlier schemes,” it said.
Fatah instructed PA security not to pursue terrorists days before attacks
The former head of the Palestinian Authority's security services called on Palestinian police not to notify Israel about any terrorists or planned terror acts, just three days before three attacks were carried out in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Palestinian Media Watch reported.

Two shootings and one ramming attack were carried out on Thursday in separate incidences, leaving a number of Israelis injured. But in a speech posted to his personal Facebook page, Tawfiq Tirawi argued that the terrorists were part of the Palestinian Authority's security establishment and should therefore be left alone by PA security officers.

"These fighters are your brothers, so be on their side," he urged.

Tirawi, who currently serves as a Fatah Central Committee member and Fatah Commissioner of Popular Organizations, made the speech in condemnation of US President Donald Trump's "Deal of the Century" during a Fatah meeting on January 30. It was posted to his Facebook page on February 2, just three days before the terror attacks were carried out.

"I say to our [Palestinian] National Authority and to our Security Forces: This authority and these forces were established on a basis of national foundations, with talented and patriotic fighters," he said in the speech, before urging them instead to pursue Palestinians who are friendly toward Israel.

"These fighters [terrorists], who are part of the PA and the security establishment – their first obligation is to pursue the collaborators [with Israel] and real estate agents [who sell land to Jews] and not to pursue any fighter! This is the obligation they know and must know! These fighters are your brothers, and they constitute support for you, so be on their side… against the collaborators and the real estate dealers."

“We will die and Palestine will live… we welcome death” – song on official PA radio
Song lyrics:
“We will die and Palestine will live
We are the people of giants
Allah is with you, Allah
O Al-Aqsa Mosque, you will not be humiliated
We are your swords against the occupier
We are your olive tree on the hill…
For Al-Aqsa Mosque and the home, we welcome death
The great people of Palestine,
and Allah is with you, Allah”
[Official PA radio station The Voice of Palestine, Jan. 25, 2019]

PA TV honors female terrorist who led murder of 37 as “iron woman”
Official PA TV narrator: "For decades her reputation has spread and her name has been famous – Palestinian Martyr Dalal Mughrabi… Iron woman Dalal Mughrabi commanded the Deir Yassin squad, which was composed of 12 self-sacrificing fighters – on the orders of General Commander of the Palestinian Revolution Forces Khalil Al-Wazir 'Abu Jihad' – that carried out the Kamal Adwan operation… [The members of] the Kamal Adwan squad died as Martyrs, 37 Israelis were killed, and 80 others were wounded… And since Martyrdom is a dream, the story of Dalal Mughrabi's life is not forgotten and remains in the minds of the revolutionaries and free people of the world. Moreover, time has not succeeded in erasing her name from the minds of the occupation leaders and [Israeli] army generals, given that the quality operation came as a surprise and showed the inability of Israel's security. Dalal Mughrabi is a woman who removed the barriers of tradition and broke the social taboos when she went to find freedom and led a path of struggle and defense…"
Official PA TV newsreader: "May Allah have mercy on Dalal Mughrabi."

12 pro-Iran fighters said killed in Syria strikes attributed to Israel
Twelve pro-Iranian fighters were killed in strikes against several targets near Damascus in the predawn hours of Thursday morning, which Syrian state media blamed on Israel, according to a Britain-based monitoring group.

Syrian state news agency SANA claimed the country’s air defenses downed a number of missiles during the strikes. Defense analysts routinely dismiss such claims by the Syrian regime as empty boasts.

“Our air defenses confronted an Israeli attack” west of the capital, said state news agency SANA, adding that the attack was carried out from airspace in the Israeli Golan Heights.

AFP correspondents in several districts of Damascus heard loud explosions around 1:15 a.m.

State television broadcast images showing explosions in the sky as Syrian anti-aircraft missiles detonated in the air.

Gaza Imam indicted for smuggling funds from Malaysia charities to Hamas
The Southern District Attorney's Office on Thursday filed an indictment with the Beersheba District Court against a Gaza Imam for smuggling funds from Malaysian charities to Hamas.

According to the indictment, the Imam, Walid Div, 43, traveled from Gaza to Egypt numerous times since 2013 to fly to deliver religious sermons in Malaysia.

While in Malaysia, Div was asked by Malaysian charities Aman Palestine and Mapim to smuggle funds back into Gaza for Hamas.

In 2013, he smuggled $3,000 USD on behalf of the Malaysian chapter of Aman Palestine to Hamas.

Div also worked with many of the same charities to smuggle funds to Hamas from Malaysia on other occasions, including contact with the Aman Palestine chapter in Gaza itself.

Neither Div nor the Malaysian charities are currently officially associated with Hamas, but the charities include members of Hamas who use the charities as a front to raise terror funds for Gaza's rulers.
PreOccupiedTerritory: As Long As ‘Peace’ Means We Can Keep Fighting, We’re In by Jibril Rajoub, Fatah (satire)
Our people’s objections to President Trump’s “Peace Through Prosperity” plan span many different issues, but I wish to make clear that all of those problems have solutions available if we receive assurances that making peace with Israel will nevertheless allow Palestinians to keep waging war against Israel.

Our core objection to the plan goes as follows: accepting the conditions that the proposal lays out for Palestinian statehood means forswearing violence against Israel, and Israeli Jews in particular, and taking measures to eliminate the rampant antisemitism in our media, schools, and politics. Such provisions strike at the very essence of Palestinian identity, i.e. rejection of Jewish sovereignty in any part of the land. Little else binds us together as a people; deprived of that unifying element, Palestinians will fall back on their disparate loyalties to clan and caste, with nothing around which to build a coherent state or society. Adding to the proposal a section that permits the holy “Resistance by any means” to occupation to continue will address this shortcoming, thereby removing the chief obstacle to the plan’s adoption.

Once cleared to continue our violent activities against the accursed Zionist usurper rapist of the land, Palestinians could, with reaffirmed dignity, engage in the hard, but peaceful, work of state-building. Our institutions have languished under occupation; we have not held parliamentary elections in fourteen years, presidential elections in fifteen. Our parliament has not convened in recent memory. Local and national government occurs by fiat. International organizations perform many functions that in a healthy, sovereign state, fall to the government. Our leadership has remained unable to fulfill its role in the state-building capacity that the Oslo Accords enabled, because we have subordinated all organs of our nascent state to fighting Israel rhetorically, politically, diplomatically, economically, and sometimes militarily when we need a release valve to relieve the pressure on our population so they don’t blame us at the top. How can we be expected to function as a state unless we can continue those policies?
Seth Frantzman: Iran trains Shia militia proxies in Iraq to wage war on US - report
Iranian proxies in Iraq are training for war against the US and will continue to fire rockets at US forces in Iraq until the US leaves, a new report says. Iranian-backed militias such as Asaib Ah al-Haq, Kataib Hezbollah and the Badr Organization have also been using “extreme measures to quell protesters, including opening fire on demonstrators,” the US said in a new report. The quarterly Lead Inspector General report for Operation Inherent Resolve pivoted in the last months to focus on Iran as the US is increasingly concerned about Iran’s threats to US forces in Iraq.

The unusual focus on Iran’s role in Iraq has been building over the last two years in these reports. The report draws on information from US Central Command, the Defense Intelligence Agency, State Department and other reports. The new report is unprecedented in focusing on Iran’s role. A special diagram shows the main aspects of Iran’s network of influence in Iraq through Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani was the IRGC Quds Force leader killed in a US airstrike on January 3. The US says that an Iraqi named Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi was also killed by US forces travelling with Soleimani in the same strike that killed Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Who was Ibrahimi? He was a member of the Badr Corps which fought against Saddam Hussein alongside Iran in the 1980s. He returned to Iraq in 2005, was elected to parliament and advised prime ministers. He became a Kataib Hezbollah commander. Then he was killed by the US.
German gov’t will celebrate Iran's 'antisemitic' revolution again
The German Foreign Ministry will celebrate the 41st anniversary of the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian regime is classified as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, and has been accused of Holocaust denial and antisemitism, according to the US State Department and the Anti-Defamation League.

The Jerusalem Post learned on Wednesday from foreign ministry sources that “The usual practice in diplomatic relations also includes the celebration of national holidays in the other country. As the Federal Republic of Germany continues to maintain diplomatic relations with Iran, this also applies to the coming national holiday.”

February 11 is the "Islamic Revolution's Victory Day," a national holiday with regime-sponsored demonstrations in every city. The government decision to honor Iran's regime comes just days Chancellor Angela Merkel's government, including Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, commemorated the liberation of Auschwitz.

The Foreign Ministry sources added that "As in previous years, the diplomatic missions abroad were instructed to leave the event immediately in the event of anti-Israeli or antisemitic agitation and to explain the reason for this to the hosts.

"The Federal Republic regularly addresses critical issues in all areas very openly to Iran.”

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