News Digest — 2/3/20

IDF Attacks Underground Hamas War Room

IDF fighter jets and helicopters attacked several Hamas terror targets early Sunday morning (2nd).

Among the targets attacked were underground infrastructures used by Hamas’ military wing, including a structure which served as a military war room.  Attacking these targets impairs the capacity of the terror organization.  

The attacks were carried out in response to the rocket fire and incendiary balloon attacks from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory during Shabbat.  One such balloon cluster landed at Kibbutz Zikim in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. IDF sappers were called to the scene to safely detonate an explosive device attached to it.

“The IDF views any terrorist activity toward Israeli territory as very serious and is in high-readiness for a variety of scenarios.  The IDF will continue to act as necessary against attempts to harm Israeli civilians,” said the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit.

“The Hamas terror organization is responsible for everything that happens inside and outside of the Gaza Strip, and it will bear the consequences for the terrorist actions against Israeli citizens,” the IDF stressed.



IDF Launches Drill That Simulates War On Multiple Fronts

The IDF on Sunday (2nd) began a large-scale four-day exercise that simulates a multi-arena fighting scenario and includes all IDF units.

The purpose of the exercise is to up the IDF’s ability to operate on multiple fronts and improve the synchronization and interfaces between the various headquarters and the fighting units, the IDF stated.

The exercise is being carried out in broad coordination involving the military’s northern region command, southern command, ground forces, Air Force, Navy, IDF Intelligence Unit and the cyber defense division.

The drill is aimed at stressing joint operations, multi-system planning and operations in emergency situations.

The IDF said it wished to clarify that the exercise was designed to “maintain the readiness of IDF forces in all sectors” and was planned in advance as part of the 2020 training program.

The Israeli military often issues such a clarification to make the point that there is no sudden threat forcing a decision to carry out such a major drill, but that instead the exercise is addressing an ongoing situation and represents part of the Israeli effort to think ahead and remain prepared.

Such a statement is deemed necessary both for the purpose of maintaining calm among Israelis and to avoid any misunderstanding with the enemy that Israel is supposedly manning an offensive campaign.

The IDF in recent years has been preparing for a scenario in which it is attacked simultaneously by Hezbollah from the north and by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the south possibly in coordination with Iran.



Egyptian Officials: Militants Blew Up Gas Pipeline To Israel

Security officials in Egypt said suspected Islamic militants on Sunday (2nd) blew up a natural gas pipeline in the restive northern part of Sinai Peninsula,

At least six masked militants planted explosives under the pipeline in the town of Bir al-Abd, which transfers gas to el-Arish, the provincial capital of northern Sinai, and a cement factory in central Sinai, officials said.

The explosion sent thick flames of fire shooting into the sky, and authorities stopped the flow of gas to extinguish the fire, officials said.

No group immediately claimed the attack.

Egypt is battling an Islamic State-led insurgency in the Sinai that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013.  The militants have carried out scores of attacks, mainly against security forces and Christians.

They also have targeted gas pipelines between Egypt and both Jordan and Israel regularly since the 2011 uprising that toppled then president Hosni Mubarak.

Israel and Jordan relied on the pipeline to meet their energy needs.

The attacks led to the collapse of a 2005 deal to export Egypt’s natural gas to Israel in 2012.

In recent years, Israel became a major energy exporter after gas discoveries in the Mediterranean. It signed a $15 billion deal in 2018 to provide Egypt with 64 billion cubic meters of gas over a 10-year period that will help transform both countries into regional energy players.



Harsh Words For Abbas Who Claims Israeli Ethiopians, Russians Not Really Jews   

Israeli leaders had harsh words for Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas who told foreign ministers of Arab states that he did not need to recognize Israel as a Jewish state because Israelis who immigrated from Ethiopia and Russia were “not Jews.”

Abbas stated during an Arab League meeting held in Cairo Saturday (1st), that convened to discuss President Donald Trump’s Deal of the Century peace plan: “They want me to recognize a Jewish state?  Most immigrants from Russia are not Jews. They paid money to say they were Jewish. The percentage of Jews among Ethiopian immigrants is also low.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by tweeting that Abbas has “apparently not yet heard of the Israeli tribes – immigrants from Ethiopia and the former USSR.”

“Our brothers and sisters, our flesh, Jews from birth who have dreamed in exile for generations of the return to Zion,  have at last fulfilled their dream,” he added.

“Ignorance and contempt for our brethren the immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia who are an integral part of the Jewish people, is shameful.  That is not how peace is built,” said Blue and White’s Benny Gantz.

“After denying the Holocaust, now you also deny reality?” Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri asked.

“Israel is a Jewish state in the merit of the historic promise to the people of Israel and the Bible.  For thousands of years, Jews from Russia and Ethiopia and all the Diasporas dreamed and prayed to come to Israel,” he stated.

“We will continue to maintain a Jewish state in the tradition and merit for which we are here,” he added.

Abbas had repeatedly stated that he will refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in any way.

Netanyahu has stated time and time again that the reason there is no peace between Israel and the Palestinians is that they persistently reject a Jewish state.



U.S. Peace Plan Critics Shouldn’t Encourage Palestinians To Make Another Mistake – Jonathan S. Tobin

All those denouncing the new U.S. peace plan are advising the Palestinians to stick to their refusal to talk until a new American president takes office.  It is the worst possible advice anyone could give. Rather than encouraging the Palestinians to start negotiating, the “experts” are applauding their decision to reject the proposal out of hand.  Sadly, they are once again serving as enablers for a Palestinian Arab leadership that has, over the course of the last century, failed their people miserably as they pursued a futile war against Zionism.

Palestinian political culture is one in which any recognition of Israel’s legitimacy is not merely a form of treason, but a complete betrayal of Palestinian identity.  That’s why Abbas was meeting with representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, rather than with Trump and Netanyahu at the White House.

Abbas is saying “no” to Trump for the same reason that the Palestinians have been saying “no” to every compromise that has been mooted to solve the conflict since the 1930s.  No Palestinian leader has the courage to make peace with Israel, no matter where its borders are drawn.

Palestinians are right to say that Trump is asking them to surrender.  But what they must surrender is their dreams of eliminating Israel.

What Trump is offering the Palestinians is the best chance they are going to get to achieve a measure of independence, and eventually even prosperity.  Anyone who advises them differently – whether out of disdain for Trump, or because they are fixated on forcing Israel to retreat to the 1967 lines and evicting hundreds of thousands of Israelis from their homes – is merely encouraging them to make the same mistake Palestinians have made every other time they had a chance to end the conflict and move on with their lives.