News Digest — 8/31/2021
Border Police Officer Shot In Gaza Rioting Dies Of Wounds
Border Police officer Barel Hadaria Shmueli, who was critically wounded by a Palestinian rioter along the Gaza Strip-Israeli border last week, succumbed to his wounds on Monday afternoon (30th) after taking a turn for the worse on Sunday (29th).
Shmueli, 21 from Beer Yaakov, had been fighting for his life at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
Soroka Medical Center issued a statement on Monday (30th) saying: “We regret his death. The medical staff fought for his life, and he underwent a number of surgeries during his hospitalization. Despite the efforts and because of his serious wounds, the staff was forced to declare him dead. We send our deepest condolences to the family.”
The Border Police also issued a statement: “We bow our heads in the memory of warrior Staff Sgt. Barel Hadaria Shmueli, who fell in combat during operations at the north of the Gaza Strip. May his memory be a blessing.”
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Monday, “I was deeply saddened to hear the bitter news of Border Police fighter Barel Hadaria Shmueli, who was killed defending Israel. I have no words to comfort his family in their great grief.”
“Barel was a fighter in his life and a fighter at his death. He fought for his life until the last minute, with all the people of Israel thinking of him and praying for him. I would like to send a hug to the family, who has lost what was most dear to them,” Bennett said.
Amateur video from the Palestinian side taken during the rioting showed a protester running up to the concrete barrier and firing a pistol into a hole reportedly used by Shmueli.
The demonstration grew violent after rioters approached the fortified border fence, throwing rocks and explosives toward Israeli soldiers from behind a black smoke screen spewing from burning tires and attempting to scale the fence. Bracing for more hostilities, the military said it had sent additional forces to the Gaza border area.
Barel Hadaria Shmueli’s funeral was held on Monday evening (30th). He was laid to rest at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv.
‘IDF Will Not Shy Away From Another Gaza War’
Israel will not hesitate to launch another campaign in Gaza if tensions on the border continue to escalate, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Monday (30th).
“As soon as Operation Guardian of the Walls ended, the IDF began to prepare for another campaign,” he said. “We have improved and continue to improve our warfare capabilities as well as operational plans in the Strip. Unless calm is maintained in the south – we will not hesitate to launch another campaign.”
The Israel-Gaza border has seen weeks of unrest, with Palestinian protesters burning tires and throwing explosives at IDF troops. On August 21, one Palestinian terrorist shot Israeli Border Police officer Barel Hadaria Shmueli, who died Monday (30th) at Soroka Medical center, after fighting for his life this week.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz also said the possibility of another war with Hamas was on the table.
“Our attacks in Gaza are focused in a way that they target Hamas, depriving it of its capabilities. I cannot guarantee that Operation Guardian of the Walls will not resume,” he told reporters.
Gantz-Abbas Meeting Irks The Right And Hamas Alike
Right-wing Israeli and Palestinian officials alike expressed outrage on Monday (30th) over news that defense minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas met in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday (29th).
It was the highest-level meeting between Abbas and an Israeli minister to be made public since Israel’s new government was formed in June.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office stressed Monday (30th) that “the meeting was approved by the prime minister ahead of time and sought to focus on defense issues concerning Israel and the PA.”
“There are no negotiations with the Palestinians, nor will there be,” the sources said.
Israel’s lawmakers fumed over Gantz’s meeting with Abbas, who they call a “Holocaust denier and terrorist,” while Hamas attacked Abbas for “stabbing the Palestinian people in the back” by taking the meeting.
Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanua said, “Abbas’ meeting with the criminal Zionist minister of war, Gantz, is a stab in the back of our people and a betrayal of the blood of the shahids [martyrs].”
“Abbas continues the series of concessions with regard to the Palestinian national existence and tries to beautify the face of the occupation.”
Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri issued a similar statement saying, “Mahmoud Abbas’ meeting with the minister of the occupation’s army is dangerous and reflects the PA’s contempt for Palestinian blood, and the escalation of its security cooperation with the occupation.”
Right-wing Israeli lawmakers also lashed out at Gantz.
Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich slammed the defense minister for “meeting with a man who denies the Holocaust, who pays salaries to terrorists and is suing Gantz and the State of Israel in The Hague.”
“Israel society does not understand the potential damage this event can inflict on the diplomatic level,” he warned.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, called the meeting “a disgrace.”
The Israeli Left welcomed the news of the meeting, with Meretz MK Deputy Economy Minister Yair Golan saying, “The defense minister’s meeting with the head of the PA is an encouraging sign and another expression of the positive change that the new government brings with it.”
“The complexity of the conflict must be resolved through dialogue – this is the right Zionist act,” he added.
New Iranian FM: Zionists Are The Main Reason For Regional Instability
“The Zionists are the main reason for the instability that is engulfing the region,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said at a joint press conference this week.
“Christians, Muslims, and even Jews are being held prisoner by the Zionist entity in Palestine’s historic territory,” he said adding, “only regional cooperation between Muslim states can lead to a stable security situation in this regard.”
Abdollahian stressed that Iran would work to strengthen economic ties with Syria and help it overcome the ongoing economic crisis caused by years of war and US sanctions.
“We are working on an economic plan that will include cooperation on trade and energy, with the goal being to battle the United States’ oppressive sanctions on the Arab Republic of Syria,” the foreign minister said.
Abdollahian also hinted that Iran wanted to create a new regional order, based on forces loyal to its regime: “We see the recent developments in the region. We believe that any political or security arrangement in the region would involve its sovereign states, including Iraq and Syria.”
Touching on the situation in Afghanistan, he said that he hoped that an Afghan government would be established that would include “all political players” in the state.
French Woman Arrested For Yelling “Heil Hitler” At Jewish Family On Shabbat
A Jewish family leaving a synagogue on Shabbat in the Paris suburb Enghien-les-Bains was accosted by a woman who yelled “Heil Hitler” at them multiple times, reported Le Parisien.
One of the family members, 33-year-old Jonathan, was wearing a white kippah, which was how they were reportedly identified as Jews by the perpetrator.
They recounted that they saw the woman’s car coming out of a parking lot and then reversing towards them.
Then the woman said “Heil Hitler” ten times before yelling, “You Jews, you are the same in France.”
Jonathan reported the incident to local police, and was able to give a description of the woman, who he said appeared to be approximately 40 years old. He also gave police a description of her car and the license plate number that his brother had written down.
Police subsequently identified the woman as a 58-year-old resident of Enghien-les-Bains and arrested her.
According to Le Parisien, the woman did not deny saying the anti-Semitic statements to the family but claimed they were within her rights of freedom of speech.
The suspect was charged with uttering public insults relating “to a specific ethnicity, nation, race or religion,” and faces up to six months in prison and a fine of $26,555 if convicted.