News Digest — 8/19/19

Netanyahu: I Won’t Hold Back From Broad Gaza Operation, Even During Elections

Israel will embark on a wide-scale campaign in the Gaza Strip regardless of the current election campaign, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday (18th) at Ben-Gurion Airport on his way to Ukraine for a two-day trip.

“I want to praise the IDF for its activities in killing five terrorists in Gaza,” he said.  “My objective is to maintain security and quiet, and we are taking all the necessary actions to this end.”

Netanyahu said he has heard those saying that election considerations are preventing him from launching a widespread military campaign in Gaza.

“That is not correct,” he said.  “Everyone who knows me knows that my considerations are to the point, genuine, and that I act in full coordination with the security forces with firmness and the necessary consideration.”

“We are taking all the necessary action,” he said.  “The other side is feeling our strength.”

His comments came as tensions between Israel and Gaza continue to rise after rockets were shot from Gaza on Saturday night (17th), with one landing in Sderot causing damage but no injuries.  Five armed terrorists were later killed trying to infiltrate into Israel.

In response to the rocket attacks, the Israel Defense Forces attacked Hamas targets in Gaza Saturday night (17th), hitting two underground terror structures.  

“The IDF will continue to act against attempts to harm Israeli civilians and sees the Hamas terror group as responsible for all that is done in the Gaza Strip,” an IDF statement read.



Islamic Jihad Says Israel’s Latest Terrorist Intercept Means War

Terror organization Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad issued threatening statements condemning Israel following the IDF’s successful interception of five armed terrorists attempting to infiltrate into Israel, Saturday night (17th), from a northern section of the Gaza Strip, Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Sunday (18th).  

Their warnings could be a sign of further escalation as the number of attacks by armed terrorists has increased.  On August 10, Israel stopped a similar infiltration from the Gaza Strip involving three heavily armed terrorists.

Hamas spokesman Abd Latif al-Qanou said, “The occupation continues to use extreme force and it commits crimes against the Palestinian people and youth in the siege of Gaza, occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

“We consider the Zionist regime responsible for all the crimes against our people,” he added, saying Israel’s actions were a “declaration of war.”

Just prior to the attempted terrorist infiltration into Israel three rockets were fired at Israel.  Two were destroyed by the Iron Dome Interceptor and one landed in Sderot.



Israeli Kids Talk About Living Near Gaza – Noa Amouyal

A year of indiscriminate rocket attacks, riots along the border fence, and incendiary balloons has put children in Israel’s Eshkol Regional Council on edge, making even those as young as five hyper-aware of their surroundings.  But an afternoon with campers reveals that although they may be bruised, they love their home and will not allow Hamas to ruin their childhood. “We try not to let the security situation change our lives. As soon as we are scared and get out of our own homes, they’ve won,” said Adam Russell, 16, a camp counselor.  “I love living here. I would love to raise a family here, despite what’s happening.”

“It’s sad, but this is our life,” said Amit, a sixth-grader.  “It’s been quiet lately. But even that’s stressful because we don’t know when the next Red Alert will be.”  Naya, also in sixth grade, said, “I sometimes ask myself why do I need to know about Red Alerts? Why does a small kid need to think he or she is under attack?”

A new school that will be completely fortified is opening for these children at the beginning of the academic year, supported by the region’s partner, Jewish National Fund-USA.  Limor Eilat, Resources Development Coordinator for the Eshkol Region, said, “For the first time, when a Red Alert blares, the children won’t have to drop everything and run to a bomb shelter.  For an entire generation of children, that was their ‘normal.’”

“People from the center of the country always ask us why we don’t leave,” said Or, a sixth-grade girl.  “We don’t want to move. Our friends are here. Our life is here. We just want to be safe.”



Footage Appears To Show Hezbollah Adopting Gaza Arson Tactics Against Israel

A fire that raged along Israel’s border Friday (16th) appears to be the work of Hezbollah terrorists who have adopted arson techniques that Palestinians in Gaza have used repeatedly to attack Israel, according to footage aired Sunday (18th) by Channel 12.

In the footage, Hezbollah operatives can be seen setting fires near the border.  Strong winds quickly fanned the flames and caused the fires to cross the boundary, which spread toward an IDF base and the community of Margaliot.  

In the footage, UN peacekeepers can be seen patrolling near the fires, but making no attempt to stop the Hezbollah men from lighting them.

The fires caused several landmines placed along the border to explode.  Local firemen took several hours to extinguish the fires, which were hampered by the inability to use firefighting aircraft due to the proximity to the hostile border.

“Everyone knows the Lebanese side is responsible for these provocations,” local official Yoram Mahluf told Channel 12.  “They are testing us.”

The news report said officials believe that Hezbollah would continue to set fires along the border in order to try and keep the IDF distracted and also to clear brush that Israeli special forces could use for cover.

The tactic appears to be an imitation of Palestinian terrorists in Gaza who have been sending thousands of arson balloons into Israel with devastating effects.

The tactic of launching balloons carrying explosive and arson devices from Gaza into Israel emerged last year as part of a series of protests and riots along the Strip’s border, known collectively as the March of Return.  The simple and low-cost method of attack by Palestinians proved effective against the far more powerful Israel Defense Forces.

From April to June 2018, Israeli firefighters extinguished 1,954 fires started by arson attacks in the fields, forests and grasslands around the Gaza Strip.  They fought 383 blazes over the same period in 2019.



Israeli Teen Remains In Serious Condition After Car-Ramming Attack

JERUSALEM — An Israeli teen who was injured in a car-ramming attack in the West Bank, Friday (16th), remains in serious condition after undergoing neurosurgery.  Nahum Nevies, 17, remains under sedation and on a respirator at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. His sister, Noam, 19, is in moderate condition and was moved from another Jerusalem hospital so that she could be with him.

The siblings are from the Elazar settlement in the Etzion bloc.  They were hit Friday by a car driven by Alaa Harimi, 26, of Bethlehem, who was shot and killed by a policeman.  The car was stolen. Harimi reportedly had previously been jailed for what Israel’s Channel 12 called “terror offenses.”  The Israeli military called the car ramming a terror attack.

Nahum, a senior in high school, suffered a skull fracture and a brain injury.  Noam Nevies is performing national service, working with school-age children from families facing difficulties.

The terror organization Hamas praised the attack on Friday, saying in a statement: “Our nation is rising in rage and the ramming and stabbing incidents are a response to the repeated stormings of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the occupation’s ongoing crimes.”



India: Over 10,000 Rally In Support Of Israel

Last week, braving extremely inclement weather and floods, SinghaBahini, a grassroots organization in India, organized a major pro-Israel rally in Kolkata, India.

The Kolkata rally saw more than 10-12,000 people come together to attend, with bumper-to-bumper traffic and roads clogged due to sudden heavy downpours and floods.  Many more who wanted to attend the rally could not make it to the site.

President of SinghaBahini, Devdutta Maji, who organized the rally, said, “Hindus for generations have been facing genocide.  We have lost 400 millions Hindus in the last 1400 years. 53 million Hindus have simply vanished from Bangladesh alone. This must end.  Hindus must get organized and see inspiration in the tiny beautiful nation of Israel, on how they stop terrorism on their own soil and support their own people.”

Devdutta Maji, who visited Israel in 2018 and was hosted by Israel-based organizations and activists, told the Jerusalem Herald, “Today’s rally will help to build on the foundations we have created for the Indian-Israeli relationship, on a people-to-people basis.”

In the rally, placards reading, “We support the Jewish People in their 2,000 year old Struggle,” “India and Israel Friends Forever,” and “We Support Israel in their War against TERRORISM,” were put up.

The relations between India and Israel have shown a positive turn under the leadership of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  With strong trade ties, people-to-people contact, and rallies in support of Israel, as seen recently, ties between India and Israel and Hindus and Jews worldwide are expected to strengthen further.

While the organization SinghaBahini is just a year old, its founder, Devdutta Maji was instrumental in organizing two previous pro-Israel rallies in India: one in 2014, with 20,000 people, and another in 2018 with 70,000.