News Digest — 6/14/19

IDF Attacks Hamas Targets In Gaza Following Second Rocket Attack In Less Than A Day

The IAF attacked several targets in the Gaza Strip during the early hours of Friday (14th), in response to a rocket that was fired from the coastal enclave Thursday night (13th) that hit a yeshiva and synagogue in Sderot.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said targets included terror infrastructure in Hamas facilities as well as a facility belonging to the terror group’s naval forces.

“We will continue to work against any attempt to harm Israeli civilians and hold the Hamas terror group responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip and everything that is launched from it,” an IDF statement read.

No one was harmed during the Thursday night attack, as yeshiva students had gone home for Shabbat.

Meanwhile, the March of Return protests are expected to resume today (14th), after a break for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.  

This week’s events and the way Friday’s (14th) protests unfold will test and question the stability of a ceasefire arrangement allegedly reached between Israel and Hamas in early May.

This week, Hazem Kasem, spokesperson for Hamas said, “The threats of the leadership of the occupation aimed at collecting votes for the upcoming elections do not scare our people,”



Gaza Rocket Strikes Sderot Building

Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket from Gaza into southern Israel late Thursday night (13th) striking a Chabad building housing a synagogue and school but causing no injuries, as students were away for the weekend, Israeli authorities said.

The rocket – fired from the town of Beit Hanoun, according to Channel 13 – set the stage for an Israeli reprisal and raised the possibility of a new round of fighting, weeks after a supposed ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.  Thursday night’s rocket was the second fired at Israel in less than 24-hours.

Israeli police said the rocket struck a building in the Israeli border town of Sderot, a frequent target of Gaza attacks.

The alleged ceasefire, reached in early May, has begun to unravel in recent days.

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

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

However, several Israeli politicians are claiming that “Netanyahu is only strong with words,”  They say, “the continued rocket fire by Hamas is evidence that Israel has lost its deterrence.”  Some said, “Only exacting an immediate heavy price from Hamas will clarify that Israel doesn’t only talk, but also uses force.”

“This situation cannot continue.  As I have said in the past, only military operations will bring quiet to our area,” Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi stated in response to the rocket attack.

“Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar are ‘sons of death’ and we should hit them first,” he continued.  “The residents of Sderot and the Gaza perimeter deserve to raise their children in peace and quiet like other residents of the country.”  

“We will continue to develop the city of Sderot and be blessed with thousands of new families.  Terrorism will not defeat us,” said Davidi.



International Law Supports Israel Retaining Some Of The West Bank – Alan M. Dershowitz

I participated in the drafting of UN Security Council Resolution 242 back in 1967, when Justice Arthur Goldberg was the U.S. Representative to the UN.  I had been Justice Goldberg’s law clerk, and he asked me to come to New York to advise him on some of the legal issues surrounding the West Bank. The major controversy was whether Israel had to return “all” or only some of the territories captured in its defensive war against Jordan.

The end result was that the binding English version of the resolution deliberately omitted the crucial word “all,” which both Justice Goldberg and British Ambassador Lord Caradon publicly stated meant that Israel was entitled to retain some of the West Bank.  Moreover, under Resolution 242, Israel was not required to return a single inch of captured territory unless its enemies recognized its right to live within secure boundaries.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman is right in two respects: (1) Israel has no right to retain “all” of the West Bank, if its enemies recognize its right to live within secure borders; (2) Israel has “the right to retain some” of these territories.  The specifics are left to negotiation between the parties.

The reality is that Israel will maintain control over traditionally Jewish areas, as well as the settlement blocs close to the Green Line.  I know this because Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas has told me this on more than one occasion when we have met.

The attack on Ambassador Friedman is mere posturing by the Palestinian leaders and their supporters.  The realpolitik, recognized by all reasonable people, is that Israel does have a right to retain some, but not all, of the West Bank.

The Palestinians can end the untenable status quo by agreeing to compromise their absolutist claims, just as Israel will have to compromise on its claims.  The virtue of Ambassador Friedman’s statement is that it recognizes that both sides must give up their absolutist claims, and that the end result must be Israeli control over some, but not all, of the West Bank.

The writer is Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School.



Nikki Haley Calms Fears On Trump’s Plan: ‘Israel Should Not Be Worried’

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said “Israel should not be worried,” by the Trump administration’s peace plan.  She made her comments in an interview with Israel Hayom Editor-in-Chief Boaz Bismuth on Thursday (13th).

“Israel should not be worried, because through the Middle East plan, one of the main goals that Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt focused on was to not hurt the national security interests of Israel,” Haley said in the interview.

Kushner, who is President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, is serving as Trump’s special adviser.  Greenblatt is serving as Trump’s chief negotiator on Israel-Palestinian peace issues.

“They understand the importance of security, they understand the importance of keeping Israel safe.  I think everybody needs to go into it with an open mind, everybody should want a peace plan,” Haley said.  

However, Haley directed criticism at the Palestinian and Arab side.  “At this point it is hard to see an opportunity in which Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas is even going to come to the table, and I think that … it shows Abbas’ true colors.

“It shows the Arab community’s true colors, that they [the Arab states] don’t really care about the Palestinians, because if the Palestinians were that much of a priority, everybody would be holding Abbas’ hand and leading him to the table.  Everybody and Abbas himself would want better.”

Haley became extremely popular with Israeli supporters during her term as UN ambassador, a position she filled for almost two years starting in January 2017.  The former governor of South Carolina made a name for herself by calling out UN hypocrisy when it came to Israel.



Golan Community Named For US President To Be Called ‘Trump Heights’

A new community planned for the Golan Heights in honor of US President Donald Trump will be named Ramat Trump, literally translated “Trump Heights,” and will be approved at the next cabinet meeting on Sunday (16th).

The cabinet secretary on Thursday (13th) sent to ministers details of the cabinet resolution for approving Ramat Trump, stating that the community will be located close to the existing village of Kela Alon and will be under the jurisdiction of the Golan Regional Council.

“In recognition of the work of the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump, on behalf of the State of Israel in a wide range of fields, and expressing gratitude for the American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights led by President Donald Trump, it was decided to initiate establishment of a new residential community on the Golan Heights called Ramat Trump,” the resolution read.

The cabinet meeting will be held Sunday (16th) at the site on the Golan rather than at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, the usual location for the weekly meetings, the PMO said.  

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will attend a ceremony at the proposed site of Ramat Trump, in the near future.