News Digest — 3/12/19

Palestinians Float Missile Warhead Into Israel Using Balloon

A balloon launched from Gaza carried an anti-tank missile warhead into Israel early Saturday (9th), representing a new stage in the airborne attacks that have remained a key feature of the Hamas terror group’s year-long “March of Return” riots along the Israel-Gaza border.

While balloons, kites, drones and even a live falcon have been used by Palestinian rioters to send incendiary devices into Israel, the incident Saturday represents the first time they sent an anti-tank missile warhead into Israeli territory.

Police sappers arrived at the Sdot Negev area immediately and carried out a controlled explosion, according to Israeli media.

To date, fires started by airborne incendiary devices have burned thousands of acres of Israeli farmland and nature preserves, causing millions of dollars in damage.

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip also fired a mortar shell at the Eshkol region of southern Israel on Saturday night (9th) amid an uptick in violence along the Gaza border.

The mortar attack struck an open field causing neither  injuries nor damage. The launch triggered air-raid sirens, sending thousands to bomb shelters.



IDF Attacks Targets In Gaza In Response To Rocket Fire

Amid rising tensions, Israeli Air Force jets and other aircraft attacked several targets in the northern Gaza Strip early Sunday (10th), including a military compound in the north of the Strip and two naval vessels belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization.

There was no immediate word on casualties from the strikes, which came after Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket at the Eshkol region in southern Israel on Saturday night (9th).

Palestinian media reported several Israeli strikes early Sunday morning (10th) near Beit Lahia, including a sea-side site know as al-Waha.

The IDF said the strikes were in response to the rocket attack, as well as “continuing terror activities from the Strip, including balloon explosives and the causing of harm to security infrastructure over the past several days.”

“Hamas is responsible for everything that happens in and comes out of the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

Meanwhile, one family from the Hof Ashkelon region north of Gaza, said Saturday (9th) they found a spent bullet shell, from an apparent Kalashnikov rifle, in their living room, confirming that a large hole torn through an outside wall on Thursday (7th) had been caused by gunfire from Gaza.



Palestinians: No Peace Or Reconciliation With The “Infidels” – Khaled Abu Toameh

The possibility of some Arab countries normalizing their relations with Israel has prompted the Palestinians to wage a campaign titled: “Normalization is a Crime,” aimed at pressuring Arab leaders to refrain from such moves.  The Palestinians are convinced that the U.S. is continuing with its efforts to persuade some Arab states to establish normal ties with Israel before solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As part of their efforts to thwart the prospective U.S. peace plan, and to prevent Arabs from establishing normal relations with Israel, the Gaza-based Palestinian Scholars’ Association issued yet another fatwa (Islamic religious opinion) on March 3 warning against any form of normalization with the “Zionist entity.”

It serves as a reminder that even if some Arabs do sign peace treaties with Israel, there will always be those Muslims who will denounce them as “traitors” and accuse them of acting against Islam.  In light of this threat, it is hard to see how Abbas or any Palestinian leader would be able to agree to any form of reconciliation and normalization with the “Zionist enemy.” Abbas is acutely aware that Muslims will condemn him – and perhaps issue a fatwa calling for his death – if he ever dares to make peace with the Jews.



David Friedman, Lindsey Graham Tour Hamas Terror Tunnel

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman joined Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) on a tour of a Hamas terror tunnel along the Israel-Gaza border Sunday (10th), as part of his visit to the Jewish state.

Both Graham and Friedman uploaded photographs from their tour of the tunnel, which was discovered by the IDF in its efforts to neutralize the Hamas terror organization’s ability to conduct cross-border attacks and to transfer weapons, equipment, and terrorists from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

The two were accompanied by IDF Brigadier General Eliezer Toledano, the commander of Israel’s Gaza Division.  IDF Southern Command Chief Major General Herzi Halevi briefed Friedman and Graham during their trip to the Gaza border area.

“With @LindseyGrahamSC today touring a Gaza terror tunnel,” tweeted Friedman Sunday (10th) afternoon.   “Cost of tunnel = cost of 2 new schools = cost of 30 new homes. #Hamas consistently makes the wrong choices for the people of #Gaza. Heartbreaking.”

Graham responded shortly afterwards, writing “With @USAmbIsrael David Friedman inspecting a Gaza tunnel. The tunnels have been used by groups like Hamas to smuggle weapons and terrorize Israeli citizens.”

On Sunday, Graham also visited Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem.

The South Carolina senator, a noted supporter of Israel, is slated to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday (11th) on the Golan Heights in northern Israel, as part of Netanyahu’s push to secure international backing for Israeli sovereignty over the strategic plateau.



New York City Rallies Against Anti-Semitism Simultaneously With Israel

Protestors gathered in New York City’s Times Square on Sunday afternoon (10th) objecting to the rapidly rising level of global anti-Semitism and calling on government officials to prioritize combating hate.

The rally, took place simultaneously with a similar event in Jerusalem under the initiative of the World Zionist Organization and with the slogan “Stop the Hatred.”

David Abadie, a former administrative assistant at WZO, arranged the Manhattan rally instantly after learning about the one taking place in Jerusalem.  “In less than seven days, I created a Facebook event and designed posters,” Abadie told local media.

“I knew as soon as I heard about the rally in Israel that we had to join in.  There had to be one here also in the financial center of the world,” Abadie said.  “For thousands of years anti-Semitism has been going on, and we’ve been taking it as bystanders, but now it is important that we unite together and make a stance.  Whether it’s in Congress or elsewhere, it’s time for us to tell the world ‘hate stops here.’”

He added that some chose to participate in rallies in synagogues around New York rather than in Times Square.

Abadie said the New York Police Department was supportive of the rally and many passersby expressed their approval.  “Only a few yelled derogatory slurs at us,” he said.

At the Jerusalem event, Yaacov Haguel, Deputy Chairman of the World Zionist Organization, reportedly stated “we are here today and in different locations around the world to say enough is enough.  We are in a difficult and painful period that has deteriorated rapidly from the scrawling of caricatures and anti-Semitic graffiti, through the destruction of graves to the severe physical harm of Jews in a number of countries.  We do not have the ability or right to continue our lives without response.”