News Digest — 8/28/19

ISIS Suspected Of Killing 3 Hamas Policemen In Gaza Strip

Even as the Israeli government considers whether to launch a wider operation against Gaza’s attacks on the Jewish State, internal tensions among terrorist groups in the coastal enclave have apparently resurfaced.

Two explosions ripped through police checkpoints in Gaza City late Tuesday night (27th), killing three policemen and wounding two passersby, according to Hamas officials.

The Hamas interior ministry said two people were killed from the first explosion.  An hour later in a second explosion at another location, another officer was killed, it added. 

It wasn’t immediately clear who was responsible for the attacks, but Hamas carried out a wave of arrests in the Gaza Strip of Salafists and others who identify with ISIS and other radical groups, Ynet reported on Wednesday (28th).

The deadly blasts are viewed as reminiscent of previous bloody rounds of infighting between Hamas and the more radical Salafi groups, which believe that Hamas should be imposing more severe Islamic edicts on Gaza society.

A Hamas health ministry spokesman first blamed Israel on Tuesday (27th), but later deleted his statement on Twitter.  The Israeli military said it was unaware of any Israeli action in the Gaza Strip at the time.

Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh stressed that Gaza can “absorb” such incidents.

“We are certain that things will be controlled and all sides involved in these bombings will be held accountable,” he said in a statement.

The Hamas terror organization has ruled the Gaza Strip since a 2007 coup which overthrew the Palestinian Authority.



Gazan Terrorists Fire Mortar Shells At Israel; IDF Retaliates With Airstrike

Palestinian terrorists fired four mortar shells at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday (27th), with one of them landing inside Israeli territory, the army said.

In response, an Israeli aircraft bombed a Hamas observation post east of Juhor ad-Dik in the central Gaza Strip.  No injuries were reported on either side.

The military said one of the shells cleared the border and struck an open field in Israeli territory.  The other three apparently landed inside Gaza.

The volley came amid a flurry of rocket attacks and mutual threats between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip.  Israel has accused the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad of being behind the recent violence from the enclave.

Senior Egyptian intelligence officials invited Hamas leaders to Cairo for talks aimed at restoring calm.  A delegation of two top Hamas members left for Egypt late Monday night (26th), and a delegation from the Islamic Jihad is expected to head to Cairo in the next few days.

Since the start of August, an uptick in rocket fire and attempts by Palestinian gunmen to cross from Gaza into Israel have been met with IDF airstrikes on Hamas targets, threatening a questionable ceasefire between Israel and the ruling terror group.

The mortar attacks also came amid heightened tensions throughout the Middle East, as Israel squared off against Iran and its proxies in multiple countries, taking responsibility for an airstrike in Syria and being blamed for others in Lebanon and Iraq as well.

Israel has maintained that Hamas, as the Gaza Strip’s ruler, is ultimately responsible for all attacks emanating from the territory, even though Islamic Jihad may be instigating the current unrest.



Iran Helping Hamas Build A Standing Army, Report Says

During a visit to Tehran a month ago, a senior Hamas delegation discussed with Iranian leaders the development of closer ties that also included the establishment of a standing army in the Gaza Strip, reports the Israel Hayom daily.

The visit by the delegation was widely and openly reported, but the formation of a full-fledged military force was a lesser-known aspect of the agenda, which emerges, says the Israeli newspaper, only upon further review of Palestinian and other Arab media reports.

The proposed Iranian-backed military force would be a joint Hamas-Islamic Jihad army, according to Israel Hayom.

The report relies on research by Ben-Menachem of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) who says that Hamas is now boasting a new manufacturing plant for explosive belts and is also hinting at a network of tunnels, apparently within Gaza, that would transport fighters from one location to another in the event of an Israeli invasion of the Strip.

Ties between Iran and Hamas had been cut for several years but revived by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.  Last month’s meetings in Iran signaled a step up in relations and included one with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Hamas has ruled the Strip since overthrowing the Palestinian Authority in June 2007.

According to Israel Hayom, the plan is to impose control of the Iran-Hamas military also over the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria.

Efforts recently have been made by the terror organization to make inroads in Judea and Samaria as well.

The smaller Islamic Jihad terror organization also maintains close ties with the Islamic republic.

Israel has issued a warning to Gazan residents that they will continue to suffer because the leadership in the Strip cares more about relations with Tehran than about Palestinian civilians.

“Hostile elements near and far, attempting to ignite a war, are dragging you into violence and destroying the stability and security of your home,” wrote the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun in an Arabic-language message which he posted on his Facebook page Monday (26th).

“Islamic Jihad, in the service of Iran, is causing destabilization again and again and harming the security of the area,” he wrote, telling the Gazan population, “You are the ones who will suffer the consequences.”



Netanyahu Visits Parents Of Terror Victim, Names New Neighborhood After Slain Teen

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara visited the bereaved parents of Rina Shnerb on Monday night (26th) at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, where her father and brother are still recovering from injuries sustained in the terror attack near Dolev in Samaria, which claimed the teenage girl’s life.

In the wake of the attack, Netanyahu approved 300 new housing units in Dolev, which will constitute the new Mitzpe Rina section of the Jewish town in Samaria.

“At the parents’ request, we decided to name the new neighborhood in Dolev ‘Mitzpe Rina,’  The people of Israel will always remember her,” Netanyahu tweeted on Monday evening (26th).   

The deadly attack on Friday morning (23rd) was carried out by Palestinian terrorists who placed an improvised bomb on a hiking trail leading to a popular spring, which in fact was named after the victim of a previous terror attack, Dani Gonen.

Rina was killed by the blast, which also injured her 19-year-old brother Dvir and her father Eitan, who serves as the Rabbi of Lod in central Israel.



Elderly Jewish Man Severely Beaten In New York Park

A Jewish man in his mid-60s was assaulted with a brick at Rochester Park in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday morning (27th), the website reported.

The victim was brutally beaten in the face and had several teeth knocked out, the report said.

Hatzaleh emergency medical volunteers evacuated him to a hospital, where he is being treated for severe facial injuries.

According to witnesses who had rushed to his aid, the assailant said nothing during the attack.  The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident as an anti-Semitic attack.

The perpetrator managed to escape the scene.

The ADL announced that it is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals responsible for the assault.

“We are alarmed and deeply concerned by this violent assault on an elderly Jewish man,” said Evan R. Bernstein, ADL NY/NJ Regional Director.  “The sheer brutality of this attack is beyond shocking and profoundly upsetting.”

“At a time when violent assaults against Jews increased by 55% last year, we must not become complacent,” he added.  “All New Yorkers should be outraged by these incidents and come together to end this disturbing trend once and for all.  We are grateful for the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit for investigating.”