News Digest — 5/19/21

Hamas: No Breakthrough On Ceasefire With Israel

Egyptian reports claimed Tuesday (18th) that a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas terror group would begin Thursday (20th).

According to Arab reports, the US and Egypt succeeded over the past two days to ensure the implementation of one of the key demands: a drop in fighting until an agreement is made.

According to Israel Hayom, Hamas spokesman Fawzi  Barhoum denied the reports, saying: “So far, there has been no breakthrough at all in talks for calm.”

At the same time, a diplomatic source said Tuesday evening (18th), “there are no agreements and no commitments on Israel’s part.”

Following the Arab reports, the sources discovered that each side insists that the other be first to cease firing.  According to the report, Hamas agrees to a ceasefire on Thursday (20th) – on condition that Israel ends its attacks before then, and Israel has similar demands.

Among Israel’s demands is that the rocket fire toward southern towns and military bases cease, Israel Hayom noted.

Throughout the operation, Israel has acted in retaliation and self-defense.  The operation began after Hamas fired at Jerusalem following weeks of anti-Semitic attacks perpetrated by Arabs against Jewish civilians.  In addition, while the IDF strikes only legitimate military targets and offers ample warning of attacks to the human shields used by Hamas, Hamas attacks are almost solely against civilian targets.  Thus Israel ending its attacks first would leave Hamas firing at Israeli civilians, with no consequences.

Egyptian sources told Israel Hayom that the plan would be a mutual ceasefire, offering “quiet for quiet” and only then would talks about a long-term plan occur.  The site emphasized that this is only a proposal, and as of now does not contain any real incentive to bring the sides to cease firing.

Meanwhile, Western sources told Al-Quds Al-Arabi that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the US government that it would take another several days to complete the operation in Gaza.



Netanyahu: ‘We Set Hamas Back By Many Years’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a situational assessment in the Southern Command with Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Tuesday evening (18th).

He then visited the Air Force base in Hatzerim and received a snapshot and operational overview from the Air Force commander and the 107th Squadron commander at the base.  In the review, Prime Minister Netanyahu was presented with data on the attacks and actions carried out by the Air Force on the various terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip.

At the end of the tour, Netanyahu said, “I am here at the Air Force base in Hatzerim, and earlier at the Southern Command headquarters in Be’er Sheva.  I received reviews of our many attacks against Hamas and Islamic Jihad…they received blows they did not expect.  I have no doubt we set them back many years.”

“I conduct situational assessments and we make decisions.  We will continue as necessary to restore peace to all Israeli citizens,” he added.

“I’m sure all our enemies around us see what price we’re charging for their aggression against us, and I’m sure they’ll learn the lesson too,” he added.



Hamas Bombs Humanitarian Aid Destined For Own People

Hamas terrorists repeatedly opened fire Tuesday (18th) at the Israel-Gaza border crossing, bombarding the passage where humanitarian aid continues to flow into the Gaza Strip despite more than a week of terrorist rocket fire on Israeli population centers.

“Tuesday afternoon (18th), Hamas terrorists fired mortar bombs toward the Kerem Shalom Crossing, targeting the humanitarian civil aid coordinated by Israel, preventing COVID-19 vaccines, food & supplies from reaching Palestinians in Gaza,” tweeted the Israel Foreign Ministry.

Despite at least a dozen separate attacks on the area in the past days, Israeli authorities announced that the Kerem Shalom crossing would reopen Tuesday morning (18th) to allow transport of fuel and essential goods into Gaza as well as letting foreign officials move across the border in pursuit of a possible ceasefire, Walla News reported.

In response to requests from international aid agencies, a convoy of 20 large trucks carrying medical supplies, field hospitals, coronavirus vaccines and food products entered the crossing despite the repeated attacks.

The Hamas terror group posted a video on its website showing numerous terrorists shouting “Allahu akbar” [God is great] as they fired dozens of mortar rounds at Israel, Tuesday (18th).  One of the attacks killed two people and wounded 8 at a fruit packing plant several kilometers from Kerem Shalom and left two others in critical condition. The IDF said one soldier was lightly wounded by shrapnel in one of the mortar attacks on the crossing and was evacuated to the hospital for treatment.

Though under attack, the crossing was scheduled to remain open between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm, following a pledge by the commander of the IDF division in charge of the crossing to get needed supplies into Gaza where normally tens of thousands of tons of material enters Gaza each week.

“Want to understand the sheer depravity of Hamas?” tweeted international rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky.  “Right now, they are repeatedly bombing Kerem Shalom, which is the main commercial crossing from Israel into Gaza.  Even as Israel is trying to bring in critical humanitarian aid into the Strip, Hamas is bombing it.  NOW you get it?”

“Tell me again how they really look out for their people in Gaza? Yeah, they’re definitely doing what’s best for them,” tweeted Shira Silkoff of The Jerusalem Post. 



Terrorist Heavily Armed Neutralized In Hebron

It was the ninth attack in the last few days in Judea and Samaria.  However, the way it was carried out was unusual.

This time the terrorist was armed with a gun, a knife and explosives.  Typically, an attacker has one of the three, or none, using his vehicle to ram soldiers or civilians.

This terrorist, however, while determined, proved ineffective, despite being armed to the teeth.

The terrorist approached a checkpoint at Gross Square in Hebron on Tuesday (18th), hoping to kill as many soldiers as possible.

He first tried to shoot at the soldiers but the locally-made “Carlo” type weapon malfunctioned and he wasn’t able to clear the jam.

He then proceeded on foot toward the soldiers and attempted to throw an explosive.  When he tried to operate it, it blew up in his hand.  Nevertheless, he continued running toward the soldiers with a knife.  Soldiers from the Givati Brigades then fired at the terrorist killing him.

The attack took place on the first “Day of Rage” and “strike” declared by Palestinian authorities in Judea and Samaria in solidarity with Arab-Israelis, who called for the general strike on Tuesday (18th).

Israel faces unrest on several fronts since Arab riots began in Jerusalem at the start of Ramadan in mid-April, escalating into a confrontation with Hamas in Gaza and then spreading to the Arab population within Israel, and most recently, to Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.



Facebook Removes Pro-Israel Page With 77 Million Followers

The “Jerusalem Prayer Team” Facebook page, which has 77 million followers, was blocked last week (Friday, 14th) without warning.  Dr. Mike Evans, director of the page and head of the Friends of Zion Association, claims that Facebook fell for an “anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist conspiracy,” Channel 2 News reported.

The subject was brought to the attention of the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday morning (18th), during a tour of Sderot, where Evans met Asif Elkayam.

According to members of the Friends of Zion Association, Evans’ Facebook page was blocked without warning.  Evans, who is currently in Israel with the aim of transmitting his live broadcasts to his followers around the world, claims that Facebook did not respond to inquiries on his behalf or from his staff.  This is despite the fact that this is the largest page in the Christian world, and the 63rd largest in all of Facebook, according to the website SocialBlade.

The campaign against the page started last week.  Anti-Israel activists claimed that Facebook made them follow the page without their consent, and began flooding it with serious and anti-Semitic comments – which also included photos and quotes by Hitler.  The comments may have caused Facebook’s mechanisms to block the page, but Dr. Evans and his team claim that the activists, who posted more than a million abusive comments, also reported it and led to its removal.

“Upon landing in Israel, I received the message that they had removed our page,” Evans explained in a conversation with NEXTER.  “A Jordanian-based cyber-terrorist organization flooded our page with comments like ‘Jews are pigs,’ we’ve never seen anything like it in our lives.  Facebook has never approached us, even though we’re under cyber attack and even though we tried desperately to contact them.  In fact, Facebook protects radical Islam and works against pro-Israel evangelicals.  They also removed my private page, I cannot post anything.  It is as if communism and fascism have come together, only because Israel is defending itself,” he added.  “America is a democracy – in the United States you are innocent until proven otherwise.  What did we do?  What was our crime?”

Dr. Evans said  that he turned to senior politicians and diplomats, including Senators Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Jared Kushner and “dozens more” with the goal of getting the page back on track.



Not Alone: Israel Supporters Make Voices Heard Worldwide

While thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters have marched across the globe, there has also been an unusual surge in pro-Israel rallies on four continents.

The shows of support, which have been organized by various bodies in over 16 countries, have included rallies with Israeli flags and signs expressing the right of the Jewish state to defend itself.

In Winnipeg, Canada, hundreds of Israel supporters stood up to a large crowd of Palestinian supporters at city hall, with a large police contingency serving as a buffer between the sides.

In the United States, numerous pro-Israel rallies were held in Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles and Boston.  Galina Blank, 50, attended the rally in Los Angeles to “show my unwavering support for Israel…the Jewish state is not alone.  We are here with her and will support her until the end.”

Along with support in countries such as Austria, the Czech Republic, Georgia and Germany, pro-Israel rallies were also held in countries that are lesser-known for involvement in the conflict or support for Israel, such as Japan and South Africa, where the ruling parties harbor clear anti-Israel sentiments.

In several countries, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Panama, Slovenia and Germany, the Israeli flag waved on government buildings. 

Meanwhile, as the IDF is fighting on the ground to defend Israeli civilians, Israeli students are fighting out of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya to defend Israel’s good name on social media sites.

The fighting in Gaza has sparked an ongoing wave of anti-Israel incitement across social media platforms.  In response, a war-room of sorts has been established at the IDC, where some 180 volunteers gather to voice Israel’s position.  The teams of volunteers identify flashpoints of hate speech and false information and try to provide a counter balance.

Prof. Uriel Reichman, the president and founder of the IDC, said: “Members of the Public Diplomacy Program and activists fight year-round against anti-Israel activity online.  The volunteers in our war-room provide a direct and independent student voice that reverberates across the globe.