News Digest — 4/5/19

Friday’s Gaza Protests To Be Nonviolent Amid Emerging Truce, Organizers Say

Palestinian organizers of the ongoing protests along the Gaza border have said the armed factions in the enclave have called for Friday’s (5th) demonstrations to be nonviolent, as part of an emerging ceasefire deal with Israel, according to a Thursday (4th) report.

A top March of Return organizer told the Kan public broadcaster that protesters have been instructed not to launch incendiary balloons toward Israel during rallies, and that the nighttime “confusion units” have been called off.

He said the Egyptian-mediated talks between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas are progressing, and that a cease fire agreement is being negotiated between both sides.

According to the organizer, who was not identified, Gaza factions have committed to nonviolent protest, and Israel has agreed not to use live fire to disperse the border demonstrations.

The statements came a day after a Palestinian media report said the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups in the Strip had instructed their members to stop launching flaming and explosive-laden balloons into Israel and to halt nighttime protests in the border region between the Jewish state and the coastal enclave.

On Wednesday, the IDF said it shot and injured three knife-wielding Palestinians trying to infiltrate into Israel from Gaza.

There appeared to be a breakthrough in the ceasefire efforts last weekend, when Palestinians in Gaza maintained relative calm along the border during large protests on Saturday (3/30).



IDF Soldier Zachary Baumel Laid To Rest In Jerusalem; Eulogized By Netanyahu and Rivlin

After 37 years, Israeli-American Sgt. First Class Zachary Baumel was laid to rest at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery on Thursday evening (4th) during a service attended by thousands of people for an IDF soldier killed at the age of 21 in the 1982 Lebanon War.

“Zachary, a few days before the battle where you fell, you wrote to your parents, ‘Don’t worry, everything’s alright, but it looks like I won’t be home soon,’” said Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in his eulogy.  “Thirty-seven years have lapsed, but today you returned home. You returned to our homeland, to Jerusalem.”

“And today – when we bring you, Sergeant First Class Zachary Baumel, to eternal rest, nearly four decades after you fell – this is the day that the State of Israel fulfills the oath it makes with its soldiers, men and women,” he added.  “Today, we can say with full faith, that we do everything – even the inconceivable and the unbelievable – to fulfill our oath: to bring home our soldiers who did not return from battle.”

Baumel’s remains arrived in Israel on Wednesday (3rd).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked, “I got chills when I heard that Zachary was back home.  We’ve been waiting for this for 37 years.”

“Bringing our sons home touches the deepest part of our identity as Jews and Israelis,” he added.  “In the name of these values, and out of love for Israel, Zachary went to war.”

Attending the funeral after returning on Thursday (4th) from meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Netanyahu said he thanked him for Russian assistance in helping recover Baumel’s body.



Syria Vows To Recapture Golan From Israel ‘By All Means’

Syria will not shy away from using force to reconquer “every inch” of the Golan Heights, the country’s foreign minister threatened Thursday (4th).

“Syria will liberate the occupied Golan by all means and all choices are on the table,” Walid Muallem said at a press conference in Damascus alongside his Venezuelan counterpart.

“US President Donald Trump’s decision on the occupied Syrian Golan has a single effect, as it only enhanced US isolation,” he said.  “Our right in the occupied Syrian Golan is firm and can’t be denied by the passage of time, and every inch of the occupied Syrian territories will be liberated.”

On March 25, Trump signed a presidential declaration formally recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, standing alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Israel captured the strategically important high plateau during the 1967 Six Day War and extended its laws over the territory in 1980, a move that was condemned at the time by the international community, including the US.

“We have will and determination and our war since 2011 is to protect Syria’s sovereignty and independence and to liberate every inch of its territories,” Muallem said.



The Survival Of Assad’s Regime And The Challenges To Syria’s Stabilization – Dr Carmit Valensi

→On March 10, 2019, hundreds of residents of Daraa in southern Syria protested against the restoration of a statue for former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, which had been toppled when the civil war began.  The protests, alongside the fact that President Bashar al-Assad controls only about 60% of Syrian territory, indicate that the situation in Syria is far from Stable.

→Today, the stabilization and rebuilding of Syria seems more a utopian vision rather than reality in the making.  Syria of 2019 has become a country with multiple power centers that compete with each other for long term influence and control.

→These include Assad’s formal state-framework, foreign political actors (Russia, Israel, Iran, Turkey), and non-state actors (armed rebel forces, political opposition, Shiite militias, and Kurdish forces).  This multi-actor reality will make it difficult to establish an effective central regime, especially a legitimate one.

→The massive physical damage caused by the war is joined by the challenge of the refugees, particularly the many middle and upper class families that will not return to Syria.  This will make it difficult to find appropriate human resources to operate the reconstructed services.

→The defeated Sunni majority has been left more repressed than it was before the civil war.

The writer is a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies – Tel Aviv University



Doctor Fired For Anti-Semitism, Dropped From Another Job

A former Cleveland Clinic medical resident fired for making anti-Semitic remarks online, such as tweeting in 2012 that she would “purposely give all the Jews the wrong meds,” had a residency offer recently revoked due to her anti-Semitic past.

On Monday (1st), Kern Medical in California released a statement that as of March 15, they had notified Dr. Lara Kollab “that her position as a Post-Graduate, Year-1 resident in the Internal Medicine Residency Program has been withdrawn effective immediately.”

“Kern Medical has determined that Dr. Lara Kollab breached her Match Participant Agreement when she submitted information that was false, misleading, and incomplete to Kern Medical during the interview and match process,” said a statement.

Kollab studied at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York and was accepted at the Cleveland Clinic as a resident.  Her Twitter feed included posts calling Jews “dogs” and disparaging comments about the Holocaust.

“After repeated failed diplomacy, our aim is to defeat the Zionist state through force,” Kollab tweeted in December 2012 in response to a tweet that said “Peace won’t come by killing every Zionist.  There has to be diplomacy.”

“Khalid, stop starting [peasant vs civilized[ wars on Twitter [Go] fight the Jews instead. Yallah,” Kollab tweeted in March 2013.

She posted five months later on Twitter a message that read, ”May Allah end the lives of the Jews so we stop being forced to go to those unclean ones.”

Kollab’s Twitter and Instagram accounts are no longer active.