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Israel Update 14.11.19



NOTE:This week’s attacks on Israeli civilians did not “start” with the assassination of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander Baha Abu al-Ata.  He had been the instigator of multiple rocket attacks on Israel including the firing of rockets at Ashdod & Ashkelon on 10.9.19 (forcing PM Netanyahu offstage during an election address) and more recently the indiscriminate firing of 10 rockets into Israel on 1.11.19 as reported in last week’s Update. Among other attacks, PIJ targeted a music festival in Sderot and threatened the Eurovision Song Contest in May. HRG.


At the time of writing, Thursday afternoon, the IDF said five rockets were fired at Israel this morning hours after a ceasefire had been reached with terror groups in Gaza. Later, the fragile ceasefire agreement appeared to stick, with no further violations recorded. Around 450 rockets had been launched toward Israel since Tuesday morning, of which 60% landed on open land and 90% of the remainder were intercepted. Reportedly 34 Gazans were killed of whom Israel said that 25 were PIJ members. An IDF spokesman said that PIJ commanders used their homes to store weapons, making them legitimate targets.  Read more here

Sirens were heard in several southern communities today  (Thursday afternoon) in response to a rocket, launched from Gaza which was intercepted over Netivot., breaking the ceasefire announced earlier. Read more here



An Israeli airstrike had killed Baha Abu al-Ata, commander of PIJ overnight on Monday. Afterwards, Gazans began firing rockets at Israel, some of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system. P.M. Netanyahu said, “This arch-terrorist was the main perpetrator of terrorism in Gaza,” noting that he was behind the launching of hundreds of rockets at Israel. “He was in the process of planning more attacks…he was [considered] a ticking bomb.” Read more here


The IDF used a drone to confirm that PIJ commander al-Ata was inside his Gaza home minutes before his assassination.                Read more here


The IDF on Tuesday afternoon launched retaliatory airstrikes against PIJ following six hours of rocket attacks on Israel, targeting training camps and underground facilities used “for storage and manufacturing of weapons.” IDF aircraft also bombed PIJ operatives as they prepared to fire rockets at Israel. Read more here


A rocket that hit the offices of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights in Gaza Strip on Tuesday, was fired by Gazan terrorists, almost certainly the PIJ group, but it fell short. The ICHR blamed Israel for the missile, which injured one worker and caused significant damage to the building. Amnesty International issued a condemnation of Israel, as did the US left-wing activist group Code Pink. However, there was an almost total self-imposed blackout of the incident by local Palestinian media, a further indication that the missile was Palestinian. Read more here


Rasmi Abu Malhous, head of the Islamic Jihad’s rocket unit, was killed in an overnight strike in Gaza. Read more here




On Tuesday, some 60 incoming rockets were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system out of 190 fired during the day. It was the first time that the IDF had ordered a closure of schools and businesses in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area since the 2014 Gaza war. Several Israelis were injured and there was damage to homes, vehicles and roads. Read more here


A 70-year-old woman was moderately hurt when a rocket struck her elder care facility Ashkelon on Wednesday. An eight-year-old girl collapsed suddenly, apparently from a heart attack, while hiding in a bomb shelter during a rocket attack on Holon on Tuesday. She remained in serious condition on Wednesday… several dozen Israelis have been injured in the rocket fire. Read more here


An IDF spokesman said that the IDF has sent messages to Hamas urging it not to take part in this round of fighting. He said the IDF conducted the attack on Abu al-Ata “because there was no other choice.”…The IDF missiles were fired from fighter jets with the intention of not bringing down the entire building, but just the floor where he was located.” Read more here


This short video shows a rocket hitting a road junction in Israel. Several drivers had narrow escapes. 3 people were injured by shrapnel. View here


Scroll down for this week’s self-explanatory images of Israel Under Fire. Read more here


Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Centre evacuated patients in the children’s ward, including premature babies, to safe zones built underground specifically for emergency operations. Read more here


Several weddings went ahead in Israel but with hastily rearranged smaller ceremonies and venue changes, due to the Home Front’s prohibition on large gatherings in many areas. One couple married in a bomb shelter. Read more here


Southern Israeli communities bore the brunt of the rocket onslaught and was at a standstill for over 2 days with civilians staying at home and close to shelters as rockets pounded the region. Read more here




The E.U. condemned as “utterly unacceptable” the barrage of rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli civilian populations. Read more here




Gazan Sameer Abu Ramzi, (not his real name) 27, says that amid the Arab Spring in 2011, he took part in mass protests against Israel…But after the 2014 Gaza war, “when I saw all the poverty and the death around me, I started asking myself whether this conflict – that I have been supporting for my entire life – was worth the suffering, pinning the blame on the mass media and the Palestinian education system. “I was not born with hatred. I was raised to it.” He says that behind closed doors, many admit that they want to end the hostilities and normalize relations with Israel. “Back in the 80s, many Gazans commuted to Israel for work. For many, it was a golden era. Cooperation was great back then and many want to resurrect what we have lost. I believe it is possible and I am not the only one thinking this way.”   Read more here


Hamas suspects Rami Aman of being an Israeli spy, but he says his only goal is to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He runs a group called the Youth Committee in Gaza. Established in 2010, it includes more than 200 people who live in Gaza and want change. “The idea behind establishing this group was to raise a generation of leaders and connect like-minded people who want to see Gaza as a better place, without hatred and prejudice towards Israel.” Aman recently spent 18 days in a Hamas prison.            Read more here




Norwegian MPs from across the political spectrum have called to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority after it was reported that new Palestinian schoolbooks glorify holy war and martyrdom. A new Palestinian syllabus almost completely omits Israel’s very existence and all references to the peace process of previous years. Read more here




Israeli intelligence and national security officials contended that the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspections earlier this year, including analysis of samples taken from the site, had shown that Iran stored nuclear material at the Turquzabad site that had been converted from raw uranium but not yet enriched…the inspection pointed to the existence of a secret Iranian nuclear conversion facility which, if confirmed, amounted to a fresh violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s safeguards agreement. Read more here




On Nov. 6, U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) tweeted, “Yesterday, I travelled to the southern West Bank, including the Palestinian village of Susya….We watched the government utility, right before our eyes, lay in pipes right across the village’s land to deliver tap water to an illegal Israeli outpost nearby.” In response, the IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories tweeted on Nov. 7, “We were surprised to read @RepAndyLevin’s tweet. The pipe is part of a major water infrastructure project for the region and will serve all populations in the area, mainly the Palestinians. We regret that your hosts misled you and misrepresented the situation. #factsmatter.”     Read more here




India’s paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) has confirmed the acquisition of Israeli-made equipment to curb illegal cross-border smuggling along the country’s 4,156 km. border with Bangladesh, including tethered drones, thermal imaging cameras, Electro Optical/Infrared sensors, as well as pan-tilt-zoom cameras. Read more here




Israel Security Agency head Nadav Argaman said: “In the past year, we have thwarted over 450 significant terror attacks.” He credited these successes to specialized technologies used by the service, its cooperation with other Israeli security forces, and its “synergy with our counterparts around the world.” Read more here




Major Efrat Kikov Levi, 32, will be promoted to lieutenant-colonel and is the first female officer appointed as an artillery corps battalion commander. Read more here




Israeli immunotherapy company Enlivex Therapeutics has announced a success in trials of a drug for the treatment of severe sepsis, a life-threatening condition affecting more than 30 million people worldwide each year.. Read more here




Israeli precision agriculture startup Agritask has developed a flexible and integrative data-driven software platform for agronomic management which supports the entire agricultural production process, from soil fertility management and growth monitoring to harvest logistics. Read more here




A team of Technion researchers has developed a “bee-free” honey using engineered bacteria.The development’s significance is magnified by the decline of bee populations in many parts of the world. Read more here




Extract from a prescient article published on 2 November, prior to this week’s escalation.

Avi Issacharoff  : The growing trend of escalation by Islamic Jihad is being led by the figure thought to be the head of its military wing in northern Gaza, Baha Abu al-Ata. Time after time, the Israeli security establishment takes pains to publish or leak al-Ata’s name to various media outlets as the person behind the rocket fire and efforts to launch other attacks, in the hopes that Hamas will rein him in. Hamas, however, is not doing so. Al-Ata is a serious troublemaker in Gaza whom no one wants to confront. That includes Hamas leaders who fear him and the possibility of being accused of collaboration if they act against him. Even Ziad al-Nakhala, Islamic Jihad’s leader, hasn’t succeeded in dealing with al-Ata, who is acting from a clear personal and organizational agenda.                     Read more here


Followed by Tuesday’s article – extract below:

Avi Issacharoff: Responsibility for the IDF’s elimination of Baha Abu al-Ata, the commander of the Islamic Jihad terror group’s military wing, lies entirely with one group: Hamas. Gaza’s Hamas rulers were ostensibly completely uninvolved in the relentless confrontation mounted by Abu al-Ata and his colleagues against Israel. But its persistent refusal to intervene, its determined ignoring of Israel’s warnings regarding Abu al-Ata’s central role in firing rockets at Israel and planning terror attacks, eventually led to an inevitable outcome… The death of Abu al-Ata was only a matter of time…The man was provoking Israel, Hamas and Egypt. He worked time and again to orchestrate attacks, succeeded in some cases, and was involved in planning even more ambitious attacks that were thwarted. And that is quite apart from the rocket fire. Read more here


Dan Zaken: al-Ata had initiated most of the recent rocket fire on Israel in recent months, contravening Israel’s understandings with Hamas. He aggressively criticized Hamas, and aimed to replace it as the flag bearer of the struggle against Israel. Despite threatening statements, the Hamas leadership is not overly upset at Abu al-Ata’s demise. Read more here


Khaled Abu Toameh: PIJ officials revealed that they endorse a strategy called “engaging the enemy.” which calls for sporadic terror attacks to keep Israel “busy” and show that PIJ is not part of any ceasefire understandings. PIJ wants to continue launching terror attacks against Israel to appease their patrons in Tehran and to score points on the Palestinian street.  Hamas can’t stop PIJ from retaliating against Israel for the killing of its senior commander. On the other hand, the current assessment among Palestinians is that Hamas will not allow PIJ to drag Gaza into a military adventure with Israel.  Read more here