News Digest — 1/30/20

Police Brace For Temple Mount Escalation

Israeli Police forces are preparing for an escalation in the violence on the Temple Mount as two Muslims were arrested at the holy site on Wednesday (29th) after they had apparently planned to carry out a stabbing attack against Israeli forces.

The IDF has likewise said that it is boosting its forces in Judea and Samaria ahead of a possible outbreak of riots on Friday (31st).

Israeli analyst Yoni Ben Menachem warned on Thursday (30th) that Jordan is working to agitate the Temple Mount atmosphere through the Waqf Council that is under its control.

“The Temple Mount has always been the match through which Palestinian leadership set fire to the area, so what will happen on the Temple Mount during Friday (31st) prayers and in the coming days is of great importance,” he explained.

He said Israel “must act firmly but cautiously on the Temple Mount in order to prevent the possibility of a new intifada being ignited.”

Two weeks ago, Hamas launched a major campaign under the banner “The Great Dawn” against what it termed Israel’s intention to “Judaize” the Temple Mount and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, prompting clashes with police on the Temple Mount.  The security system fears that Hamas will utilize the Friday prayers this week to ignite the Palestinian Authority and drag residents into broad violent riots.

Police said on Thursday (30th) that its investigation into the Wednesday incident (29th) on the Temple Mount, in which two suspects armed with a knife were arrested, “reinforced the suspicion that the suspects arrived at the Mount with the intention of stabbing a police officer stationed there, but their intent was thwarted by the heightened vigilance and rapid response of police officers operating in the Temple Mount area.”

Police said, “This is the second time in recent months that the alertness of police officers stationed at the Temple Mount has led to the prevention of harm to innocent civilians and police officers.”     



Gaza Mortar Shell Strikes South Amid Fears Of Violent Responses To US Peace Plan

Palestinian terrorists fired at least one mortar shell at southern Israel on Wednesday night (29th), striking an open field and causing no injuries or damages, the military said.

The mortar attack triggered sirens in the community of Kibbutz Kissufim in the Eshkol region.

The attack came a day after US President Donald Trump released his plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which drew staunch denunciations from Palestinian leaders, including rulers of the Gaza Strip, the Hamas terror group. 

In response to the mortar fire and balloon clusters containing explosive devices directed at Israel Wednesday (29th), IDF aircraft and fighter planes later attacked several targets belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the southern Gaza Strip, including weapons production infrastructure as well as underground infrastructure.

“The Hamas Terror organization is responsible for what is happening in and out of the Gaza Strip and it will bear the consequences for actions against Israeli citizens,” said a statement by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.



Report: Uganda To Move Its Embassy To Jerusalem

Uganda is planning to announce that it is moving its embassy to Jerusalem next week, sources close to the Ugandan president and the Ugandan Christian community told The Jerusalem Post.

The Hebrew website Ynet reported on Wednesday (29th) that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to travel to Uganda on Monday (2/3) but did not cite a reason for the visit.

Sources close to the Ugandan Knesset Christian Allies Caucus told the Post that the move has been in the works for months.  The Caucus works to strengthen cooperation between Christian leaders and the State of Israel by building direct lines of communication, cooperation and coordination, between the Knesset and Christian leaders around the world.

For years Evangelical Christians from the US have been traveling to Uganda, spreading the message of the Bible and Christianity and influencing policy in the African country.

Uganda’s president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, is an Evangelical Christian.  A 2009 article by NPR reported on ties between Museveni and the American Christian organization “The Fellowship,” which founded the National Prayer Breakfast.

Overtime, Uganda has been swayed toward Christianity.  Earlier this week the Post reported that thousands of Christians across Uganda sang, marched and waved Israeli flags while praying for the State of Israel in a series of events sponsored by Christians for Israel and Intercessors for Uganda.

Netanyahu’s trip to Uganda will come days after the prime minister traveled to the United States to meet with Donald Trump and unveil the ‘Deal of the Century’ peace plan and his travels to Russia where he is to bring home Israeli tourist Naama Isaachar, who was pardoned by Russia after being held in a Russian prison since April 2019.



Ex-CIA Chief Petraeus: Iran, Hezbollah Will Not Risk Major War With Israel

Iran and Hezbollah will not risk a major war with Israel, ex-CIA Director and General David Petraeus said on Wednesday (29th).

Speaking from the INSS annual international conference in Tel Aviv, Petraeus explained that a combination of US and Israeli military power had established deterrence with both Iran and Hezbollah from major risky actions, even as they might risk smaller confrontations.

Petraeus said that, “Iran will not risk a major war because it would put its survival at risk,” stating that Tehran knows Jerusalem will not hesitate to unleash massive force in a broad conflict and that even the US might get involved.

He added that he believed Russia would act to restrain the Islamic Republic from major destabilizing activities.

Regarding Hezbollah, he said, “Hezbollah will not risk a full war with Israel unless it is pushed into a corner.”

The former CIA director said that, “We in the US underestimated for years the significance of the blow Israel dealt to Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon War.”

He said, “Israel’s use of force against Hezbollah in 2006 is what deters Hezbollah from a larger fight to this day.”



The Arab World And The Palestinians – Prof. Eyal Zisser

The Arab world didn’t hold its breath on Tuesday (28th) upon the revelation of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, and generally responded with restraint and even deafening silence.

On the other hand, however, and this is the good news, there were no expressions of outrage or outright dismissal of the plan either – not over the declaration of a united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; not over the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state; not even over the expected annexation of settlements in Judea and Samaria.  After all the majority of Arab states have far more important and pressing issues than the future of the Palestinians to deal with; and if the Palestinians don’t want to, or are perhaps incapable of taking responsibility for their future for the first time ever – then no one in the Arab world intends to do it for them. 

The Palestinians, from their perspective, have chosen, as expected, to indignantly reject the American peace proposal.  Apparently, they would rather “live in a movie” and continue dreaming their dreams about a better future and continuing the struggle against Israel – or even international intervention to force Israel to grant them their every desire.  But none of this, after all, will happen, and the entire world, except for the Palestinians, has already realized this.

The assumption that preserving the status quo serves the Palestinians or doesn’t worsen their situation was shattered on Tuesday (28th), but due to the weakness of Palestinian society and its leadership, they aren’t drawing the necessary conclusions and answering Trump’s call.

Thus, instead of recognizing reality, internalizing that they will never be offered a better proposal, but mostly instead of rolling up their sleeves in an effort to try building a stronger and more prosperous society and economy – and hopefully pulling the Palestinian wagon out of the mud it has been stuck in for decades – the Palestinians would rather keep missing every opportunity that happens on their path.

Unlike the past, the Middle East is no longer divided by Israelis on one side and the Palestinians with the backing of Arab states, on the other.  The new line in the sand runs between Iran and its allies, and the moderate Arab states with Israel and the US alongside them. In their decision to reject the American plan, the Palestinians are opting to be on the wrong side of the map and of history.  The Arab world understands this, which explains the cold shoulder it is turning to the Palestinians at this most fateful juncture.

The plan Trump proposed on Tuesday (28th) is light-years from the Palestinian dream.  But it is a realistic and practical plan, which addresses the gamut of problems that have always stood in the way of a peace deal.  Its main advantage is that contrary to the past, this plan is not hostage to Palestinian weakness or whims, and Israel and the United States can implement it in its entirety or partially, on their own.  This is an important achievement for Israel, and it’s possible that 2020 will be remembered in history the same way we currently remember 1948 and 1967.