News Digest — 6/13/19

IDF Warplanes Strike Underground Terrorist Installation In Gaza Strip

Israel fighter jets struck an underground terrorist infrastructure belonging to Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday night (12th).  The attack was in response to rocket fire from Gaza earlier that night, the IDF reported.

One terrorist rocket was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system,  The explosion was heard by local residents in the Eshkol region, an area bordering the southeastern portion of the Strip.

“The IDF will continue to act against attempts to harm Israeli civilians and considers the terrorist organization responsible for everything that is happening in and out of the Gaza Strip,” the Army spokesperson’s office said in a statement.

After a brief interlude, things are heating up along the Gaza border once again.

After an intense, weekend-long Hamas rocket barrage at the start of May, in which Israel responded with retaliatory airstrikes, an undeclared ceasefire took hold between the sides.  That appears now to be unraveling.

This Friday (14th), Hamas has promised an increase in border protests to condemn Jason Friedman’s recent remarks about Israel in the future, “annexing” “maintaining” parts of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).



Israeli Naval Blockade: Gazan Shores Closed After Hamas Launches Fire Balloons

Israel announced Wednesday night (12th) that the Gazan shores will be closed “until further notice” to Palestinian fishermen due to a recent flareup of violent attacks on Israel from Gaza.

In its statement, the IDF noted “the continuous launching of incendiary balloons and kites from the Gaza Strip towards Israel.”  Authorities say that eight booby-trapped balloons and kites were launched from Gaza on Wednesday, (12th) in six cases, they say, fires broke out on the Israeli side.

Such attacks have been taking place for more than a year, causing extensive damage to Israeli fields near the Gaza border and financial losses to Israeli farmers.  Israel reportedly has made a cessation of such attacks a condition toward stopping airstrikes on terror targets in Gaza. Wednesday’s (12th) attack was the largest daily launch in several weeks.

A full naval blockade is a rare step taken by Israel.  More frequently, Israeli authorities reduce the size of the fishing zone off the Gaza coast when there is an uptick in violence and increase it again when relative calm is restored.

Nizar Ayyash, chair of the Gaza Fishermen Union, complained in an interview with Israeli media that the fishermen are caught in the middle, and punished for actions for which they are not responsible.



PA Shocked By Arab Nations’ Support For Bahrain Summit

The Bahrain summit, slated for the end of June, is considered a major step toward the unveiling of President Donald Trump’s peace plan for the Middle East, and the PA has called on Arab countries and Arab businessmen to boycott it.  Jordan, Egypt and Morocco’s participation serves a severe blow to PA head Mahmoud Abbas.

While the PA outwardly criticized the Arab countries, officials condemned Abbas’ policies behind closed doors and blamed him for holding back the PA.

The officials conceded that their diplomatic campaign against the Manama summit has failed and that Abbas must admit his failure, or at least generate a unified Palestinian front against Trump’s pending peace plan, dubbed the “Deal of the Century.”

News media has learned that PA officials advised Abbas to attend the summit “by proxy,’ through businessmen or Fatah and PLO officials living abroad.

Senior journalist Abed al-Bari Atwan called on Wednesday (12th) for an inquiry into how Arab countries have deceived the Palestinians and have joined the supposed international efforts to “kill the Palestinian issue.”

However, he said that the PA should not be surprised by the move and should understand changes in the region and that Arab countries which previously acted in full coordination with the PA have ceased to act in that manner, and essentially are accepting the deal of the Century in some form.

A PA source said that Jordan agreed to participate in the Bahrain event after Jared Kushner, Trump’s close adviser, visited the Kingdom and gave his word that Jordan’s control of the holy sites in Jerusalem would not be compromised by the peace plan.

Saudia Arabia and the United Arab Emirates confirmed last month that they will attend the summit, and the U.S. and Bahrain are now waiting for Lebanon’s response to their invitation.



India Adds SPICE With New Israeli Smart Bombs

The Indian Air Force has signed a deal with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to procure some 200 advanced SPICE 2000 bombs for some $30 million, Indian media reported on Monday (10th).

“SPICE,” which stands for “smart, precise impact, cost-effective,” is an Israeli electro-optic and GPS kit for converting unguided munitions into precision-guided ones.

Designed for air-to-ground missiles weighing almost 2,000 pounds, it is considered extremely advanced.  The system is used by the Israel Air Force, where it is nicknamed “steel hailstones.”

The Indian Air Force has used SPICE bombs in counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan as recently as February 2019.

According to local media reports, the deal was classified as an “emergency procurement,” placed under the special financial powers given to the military by the Indian government.

Rafael is expected to supply India with the bombs within the next three months.

In 2014, the Indian Air Force bought a large number of SPICE bombs for about $100 million.



Polish Soccer Team Celebrates ‘Pogrom’ Over Israelis

Poland’s national soccer association has defended its use of the word “pogrom” in a social media post during Monday’s (10th) UEFA Championship qualifying game against Israel in Warsaw.

Israel was reportedly defeated 4-0 in a disappointing performance at the National Stadium in the Polish capital.  After midfielder Damian Kadzior scored the home team’s fourth goal of the night, the Polish Football Association social media team declared on Facebook: “Gooooal!  This is already a pogrom!  We are beating Israel 4-0.”

The word pogrom — derived from the Russian verb “to destroy” — emerged in the late nineteenth century to describe the systematic explosions of mass violence targeting Jewish communities throughout Russia and eastern Europe.  Several pogroms took place on Polish territory from 1889 onward, including what many historians say is the last such event to have occurred on European soil: the massacre of more than 40 Jews, many of whom had recently been liberated from Nazi concentration camps, in Kielce in July 1946.

Over the last two years tensions have escalated between Poland’s nationalist government, Israel and world Jewish organizations over legislation that prohibits discussion of Polish collusion with the Nazi German authorities during the Holocaust.

But a spokesperson for the Polish Football Association (PZPN) insisted that the word “pogrom” was frequently used to describe sports victories like the one over Israel on Monday (10th).

“The use of the word “pogrom” in a post about the game shows a complete lack of sensitivity in the Polish Football Association’s communications department,” Dr. Rafal Pankowski — head of the Polish “Never Again” Association–told The Algemeiner on Tuesday (11th).

Pankowski said the post had “opened the floodgates to many more offensive comments about the game on social media using Holocaust imagery, jokes about ‘gas,’ and the like.”