August 16, 2018

Israel To Ease Some Gaza Restrictions; Bennett Opposes Concessions To Hamas

Israel says it plans to ease some restrictions on the Gaza Strip as Egypt attempts to broker an end to months of violent Palestinian riots, Hamas rocket attacks and arson terror, including retaliatory strikes by Israel.

A statement from Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s office Tuesday (14th) said that if a current lull in violence continues, Israel will resume full operations at a key goods crossing, the Kerem Shalom crossing, and restore fishing limits Wednesday morning (15th).

Israel tightened the restrictions earlier this month in response to incendiary balloons and kites launched from Gaza, which have sparked a wave of arson terror destroying thousands of acres of Israeli land to the tune of millions of dollars in damage.

Israel and Hamas have come close to serious conflict in recent weeks after four months of violence along Gaza’s border following Hamas-organized rioting there.

In response to the announcement regarding a potential long-term Gaza ceasefire agreement, Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett declared that his party would oppose the move, reported Times of Israel.

While the cabinet is set to debate the ceasefire agreement on Wednesday morning (15th), Bennett warned that a period of calm would provide the Hamas terror group, which rules Gaza, with a chance to prepare its next onslaught on the Jewish state.



Israeli Force Raids Illegal Weapons Workshop Near Hebron

Israeli forces raided a weapons workshop in the PA village of Yatta, south of Hebron on Monday night (13th), and also carried out a series of raids throughout the West Bank to arrest Palestinians wanted on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity and riots.

The raid on the illegal gun mill followed a joint IDF-Shin Bet security agency operation to thwart a weapons deal.  During the operation, two suspects were arrested for manufacturing and selling guns. Israeli forces recovered a homemade Carlo automatic rifle among other things.

The IDF carried out the raid as part of a major campaign against the spread of illegal guns across the West Bank.

In separate raids, a total of 21 Palestinians were arrested throughout the West Bank Monday night (13th) and were taken in for questioning on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities.

Four of them were arrested in the village of Beit Umar for setting a fire near the Israeli settlement of Bat Ayin.  The arrests sparked a riot near Beit Umar, with protesters shooting off fireworks and throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails, burning tires and throwing a homemade bomb at the soldiers.  The soldiers fired their weapons in the air and used crowd dispersal methods to contain the riot. No injuries were reported among the soldiers

Another IDF operation near the village of Beit Rima also encountered a riot, during which Palestinians there, threw rocks, Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs at soldiers.  No injuries were reported, but IDF vehicles were damaged.



Senators Urged To Back Bill Targeting Hamas And Hizbullah For Using Human Shields

WASHINGTON – The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) are urging lawmakers to co-sponsor a Senate bill targeting Hizbullah and Hamas for using human shields.

The bill, introduced last week by Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., would sanction those who use civilians to shield themselves while carrying out attacks.  It singles out Hamas and Hizbullah as the main violators.

3 Democrats and 12 Republicans have sponsored the bill thus far.

“We strongly agree that the use of human shields by terrorist groups is illegal, harms innocent civilians, and impedes necessary efforts at self defense by democracies such as the United States and Israel.  There’s clearly a need for this legislation. It would impose concrete penalties against all terrorist groups that do this and encourage the United States to pursue a Security Council resolution that would force the international community to do more to put a stop to this odious practice,” the ADL told JTA in a statement.

Also backing the bill are B’nai B’rith International and the Orthodox Union.

The bill calls Hizbullah, the terrorist Lebanese militia, and Hamas the terrorist group controlling the Gaza, “repeated” practitioners of an action that violates international law.  It notes reports that Hizbullah is concealing missiles in villages in Lebanon and that Hamas routinely launches missiles at Israel from densely populated areas.

AIPAC this week sent an action alert to its activists, asking them to urge their senators to back the bill.



Russia Deploys Police To Help UN Patrol Israel-Syria Border

The Russian military said its forces in Syria would help UN peacekeepers fully restore their patrols along the frontier between Syria and the Israeli Golan Heights.

Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko told reporters Tuesday (14th) that Russian military police have set up four checkpoints in the area and plan to bring their number to eight.

He said the Russian military would secure the area and help clear mines left by jihadists to allow the peacekeepers to resume their operations.

The UN peacekeeping force known as UNDOF first deployed along the frontier in 1974 to separate Syrian and Israeli forces after Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six Day War, but was halted on the Syrian side of the border in 2014 amid the violence in the country’s civil war.

Last month, Syrian government forces reached the Israeli border area after capturing territory from rebels and Islamic State fighters.  It was the first time regime forces had taken up positions along the frontier since the uprising against President Bashar Assad swept through the country in 2011, causing a seven-year civil war.

In response, the UN announced it was implementing a “gradual return” of its peacekeepers to the border area for the first time since 2014, conducting joint patrols with Russian military police.



Israel Gets NIS 17.6 Trillion Valuation

The State of Israel is officially worth more than 17 trillion shekels or NIS 17,638,763,277,054 to be precise, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon revealed Tuesday morning (14th) as he opened trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).

To mark Israel’s 70th anniversary of independence earlier this year, the TASE conducted an initial estimate of the valuation the State of Israel would achieve if it were floated on the exchange.

The valuation, using the methodology employed by the World Bank in a recent survey of the valuations of 140 countries, found that Israel would be worth NIS 16 trillion – Israel was not included in the original World Bank survey.  The valuation was then revised upward based on a questionnaire to the general public examining and measuring human capital in the country.

“A country that doesn’t grow is a country in decline,” Kahlon said at the opening bell.  “Growth is the answer to social, economic and security needs. Today we are at a debt-to-GDP ratio that is one of the lowest in our history.  Low debt leads to strong ratings, a strong stock exchange and a strong economy. But economies are cyclical… and my job is also to prepare the economy for crisis.  We must continue to lower our debt even though sometimes we are criticized for that. Low debt is important for the future of Israel.”