News Digest — 12/8/21

Woman Injured In Sheikh Jarrah Terror Stabbing In Front Of Her Children

A woman, 26, was stabbed in a terror attack at the entrance to Sheikh Jarrah on Wednesday morning (8th), Israel authorities reported.  She was pushing a stroller and was on her way to drop off her children at school, according to Maariv.

Hamas commented on the incident saying that “the heroic actions in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the most recent of which was the stabbing of a settler in Sheik Jarrah, prove the greatness of our people whose resistance cannot be broken,” Ynet reported.

The suspect, a teenage woman, was arrested later Wednesday morning (8th) at an educational institution in Sheikh Jarrah, according to Israel media.

The injured woman was treated at the scene before being taken to Hadassah-University Medical Center.  She was conscious upon arrival, a Medical Center spokesperson said, and in stable condition.  

The stabbing comes after five terrorist attacks in the past two and a half weeks, all carried out by lone wolves.

The first attack in this apparent wave took place on November 17, when 16-year-old Amr Abu Assab stabbed two Border Police officers before being shot dead by an armed civilian who had been passing by.

Several days later, Hamas member Fadi Abu Shkhaydam carried out a deadly shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, killing 26-year-old Eli Kay and wounding several others.  That attacker was also shot dead by Border Police.

That same day, a 67-year-old man was moderately injured after being stabbed repeatedly in the back by an 18-year-old Palestinian from the Jenin area in the West Bank.

A stabbing attack took place on December 4 near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, when an Israeli civilian was injured moderately.  The attacker was killed.

On December 6, a vehicular ramming attack was carried out by a 16-year-old Palestinian teenager who accelerated into the Te’enim crossing near the PA city of Tulkarm with a stolen car, seriously injuring an Israeli Guard.  Other guards at the crossing opened fire at the driver, fatally wounding him.



Israel Completes Anti-Tunnel Border Wall With Gaza

Israel has completed construction of  a 40-mile long, high-tech barrier running both above and below ground on the border with the Gaza Strip.  The upgrade took three and a half years to complete at a cost of $1.1 billion.

“There is no place in the world that has built an underground barrier,” Fence Administration Director Brig. Gen. Eran Ofir said at the opening ceremony Tuesday (7th).  “It was a very complex project, both operationally and engineering-wise.”

The technical difficulties were not the only challenges faced by the construction team.  

“The work was not easy, we went through 15 rounds of fighting, we were shot at, and we didn’t stop work for a moment,” Ofir said.

The upgrade came in the wake of  2014’s Operation Protective Edge, in which Hamas made extensive use of cross-border tunnels with the aim of infiltrating southern Israel.  Some 70,000 Israelis currently live in over 50 communities within the Gaza area.

The new border fence includes an underground barrier running along the entire Gaza border, a maritime wall, and a steel fence standing six feet high above ground.  It also incorporates sensors and monitoring devices to detect tunnel building.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the barrier as “a creative, technological project of the first order,” adding that it “denies Hamas of one of the capabilities that it tried to develop and places an iron wall, sensors and concrete between it and the residents of the south.”

Warning that Israel could currently be in a “calm before the storm” thanks to recent threats by Hamas and other groups, he added: “Routine life here is our victory and it is the greatest enemy of terror organizations.”

He continued: “We will prevent the transfer of Iranian knowledge and technology to Gaza, and we will continue to thwart any attempt by Hamas to operate its branches in Judea and Samaria or in Israel – attempts that fail time and time again.”

Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amit Eshel, director-general of the Defense Ministry, lauded the fence as “one of the most complex engineering projects ever built,” adding, “it is further proof that there is no task that the defense establishment cannot perform.”

“The barrier has already changed the reality in the south and will lead to the continued economic and social boom in the communities of the Gaza envelope.”



Hamas Threatens Renewed Escalation With Israel, Slams Egypt Over Gaza Role

A senior Hamas source on Monday (6th) said his terror group was weighing a renewal of violence against Israel in Gaza, while lashing out at Egypt over its role as mediator between the sides.

“We are considering options for an escalation with Israel in light of the continued siege of Gaza and the delay of rehabilitating the Strip,” the unnamed source told Al Jazeera.  “We will not allow the current situation to continue and the next phase will prove the credibility of our words.”

The remarks referred to the Israeli and Egyptian blockades of the Gaza Strip, which Israel says is needed to prevent arms from reaching Palestinian terror groups, and reconstruction in the coastal enclave following the 11-day military conflict in May between Israel and Hamas.

The source warned Israel against “attacks” on Palestinian security prisoners and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, saying they “will again blow up the situation.”  The fighting in Gaza earlier this year began after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem amid tensions over the holy city.

Turning to Egypt, the Hamas source accused Cairo of not honoring pledges to them and other Palestinian factions concerning reconstruction and aid for Gaza.

The source also charged that Egypt was preventing many Palestinians from leaving Gaza via the Rafah border crossing.

“The behavior of Egypt violates its promise to ‘compel Israel’ in exchange for the resistance’s commitment to calm.”

The Hamas warning came as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was set to visit Cairo for talks with senior Egyptian officials that are expected to largely focus on Gaza.

Israel and Hamas have been holding indirect negotiations, moderated by Egypt, on stabilizing the fragile ceasefire since the battle between them in May.  Israel has vowed not to allow a full reconstruction of Gaza without a prisoner swap between the two sides.



Dutch Court: Gantz Not Responsible For Gaza Deaths During 2014 War

An appeals court in the Netherlands affirmed a lower court’s ruling on Tuesday (7th) that current Defense Minister Benny Gantz cannot be held legally responsible for the deaths of six Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge.

At the time, Gantz served as the IDF’s Chief of Staff.  As Israel’s highest military official, he became the subject of a lawsuit seeking to hold him responsible for alleged war crimes.

Ismail Ziada, a resident of the Netherlands (originally from Gaza), sued Gantz and former Air Force commander Amit Eshel in a Dutch court for ordering an airstrike that resulted in the death of six of his family members during the conflict.

Citing universal jurisdiction, which holds that charges of war crimes and torture can be heard by any court, even one that’s not located in the area where the alleged crimes took place, Ziada filed his case in the Netherlands.

But in January 2020, the Hague district court ruled that it could not hear the matter, as Ziada was seeking financial compensation and that Gantz and Eshel possess “functional immunity from jurisdiction.”

Ziada had argued that the suggestion he file his lawsuit in Israel was “farcical as well as vicious.”

The Hague Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday (7th) that the lower court’s decision to reject the lawsuit was correct.

The court could not rule on Gantz and Eshel’s decisions made in the context of a military conflict because “a judgment on their actions would necessarily include a judgment on the actions of the State of Israel,” the judge wrote.

Israel’s Deputy Attorney General Roy Schondorf praised the ruling, writing on Twitter that the decision sets an “important legal precedent that safeguards Israel’s military commanders as a whole against similar legal attempts.”

According to AP reports, Hamas acknowledged that the air strike that killed Ziada’s family members also killed four members of the Hamas terror group, who were hiding in the same building.



Security Sources: Israel Has Struck 75% Of Iran’s Weapons In Syria – Benjamin Kerstein

Israel has struck some three quarters of Iran’s weapons supply in Syria, sources within Israel’s security establishment told local media Tuesday (7th).

According to Walla news site, the unnamed sources said that part of the weapons were constructed in Iran and smuggled into Syria by land, air and sea in order to supply pro-Iran militias and assets in the war-torn country, as well as the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

In their assessment, said the sources, Israel had achieved full deterrence against both Iran in Syria and Syria’s ruling Iran-allied regime of dictator Bashar Assad.

The material damaged in Israeli operations includes rockets, missiles, air defense systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, weapons production infrastructure, and other assets.

Israel has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran to entrench itself militarily in Syria and has conducted a years-long air campaign against Iranian weapons and assets in the country, which has been wracked by civil war since 2011.

Syrian state media reported Tuesday (7th) that Israel had carried out what appeared to be its first-ever air strike on the port of Latakia.  Israel has not publicly commented on the reports.

Meanwhile, amid the backdrop of stalling talks in Vienna between Iran and world powers over the nuclear deal, Israel is reportedly preparing to urge the US to strike Iran-linked targets in the region, as a means of softening Tehran’s negotiating position.