Israel Update: 17 May 2018
Over the past seven weeks, the IDF has been called upon to defend Israeli communities in the Gaza periphery from attack by huge crowds of Gazans, who have provided cover for extreme Islamist terror groups (Hamas Islamic Jihad etc), attempting to storm the border. About four thousand Israeli citizens live within 3 km of the border.
A Gaza health official cast doubt Tuesday on initial claims that an 8-month-old baby died from Israeli tear gas fired during mass protests on the Gaza border with Israel. A Gazan doctor told the Associated Press that the baby had a pre-existing medical condition and that he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas …The (Hamas run) Gaza Health Ministry initially counted her among several dozen Palestinians killed Monday.
A Hamas official on Wednesday acknowledged that 50 of the 62 Palestinians reported killed during Gaza border riots on Monday and Tuesday were members of the Islamist terrorist group, bringing the total number of known members of terror groups among the fatalities up to 53.
Islamic Jihad acknowledged that three of the fatalities were its operatives, one of whom was aged 16.
“It was clear to Israel and now it is clear to the whole world that there was no popular protest. This was an organized mob of terrorists organized by Hamas,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.
Monday’s violent clashes on the Gaza border occurred in 13 different places:
A timeline: 12:53pm – Five pipe bombs exploded. 12:58pm – Bomb exploded. 1:15pm – A terror cell sought to plant explosives by the border fence and opened fire at IDF forces. 1:30pm – Fire opened at IDF forces. 1:45pm – Fire opened at IDF forces by eight terrorists. 2:09pm – Three bombs exploded. 3:10pm – Bomb exploded. 7:02pm – Terrorists opened fire at IDF troops. 17 kites carrying flammable materials were flown from Gaza into Israel, causing fires in 23 locations.
a pistol, grenade launchers, charges and preparations for opening the fence were found at the scene.
A Hamas activist from Gaza who was arrested while attempting to infiltrate into Israel on Monday said Wednesday: “Hamas organized the protests in order for people not to turn on them. They (Hamas) say: ‘Instead of them harming us and turning on us, we’ll send them to the border fence where they will be hit.'”
Michael Freeman Counsellor for Civil Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in London in an interview on BBC Breakfast explained what happened on Monday at the Gaza border.
According to the New York Times, “loudspeakers on minarets urged Palestinians to rush the fence bordering Israel, where they were met by army snipers.” The Washington Post reports that “organizers urged demonstrators to burst through the fence, telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions, even as they were reinforcing them.”
This suggests that Hamas incited protesters to dash toward Israeli military positions, likely knowing that many would be killed. If Palestinian leaders want to know who is responsible for the deaths in Gaza on Monday, they should glance in the mirror.
The Washington Post also reported: The protests appeared to have a more violent edge than in previous weeks. Some young men brought knives and fence cutters. While some said they would abide by official calls to keep the demonstrations peaceful, others talked about their enthusiasm to break into Israel and wreak havoc. “We are excited to storm and get inside,” said 23-year-old Mohammed Mansoura. When asked what he would do inside Israel, he said, “Whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones.” Two other young men carried large knives and said they wanted to kill Jews on the other side of the fence.
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said on Sunday about the Gaza protests: This is not peaceful resistance, it is supported by our weapons.
On Sunday, Hamas posted pictures and maps on social media showing the shortest routes from the border fence to nearby Israeli communities for those managing to breach the security fence.
Early on Monday, Israeli planes dropped leaflets in Gaza on Monday warning Palestinians not to approach the security fence. “You are taking part in violent riots which jeopardize your lives….”
Prior interrogations by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) of several Gazans arrested after crossing the border into Israel revealed that Hamas operatives have participated in the protests dressed in civilian clothing and have been distributing gasoline, tyres, and other incendiary devices to be used during the protests.
A Hamas activist from Gaza arrested while attempting to infiltrate into Israel on Monday said Wednesday: “Hamas organized the protests in order for people not to turn on them. They (Hamas) say: ‘Instead of them harming us and turning on us, we’ll send them to the border fence where they will be hit.'”
The US Ambassador to Israel said: “we have a problem with Palestinian leaders who tell 14-year-olds that the Gaza border has been breached, and they can go ahead and march on to Jerusalem, only to find that the IDF are waiting for them. That’s a suicide bomb on a large scale.”
Facebook posts in Arabic (translated here) made it clear what Hamas intended: “The protestors are asked to please to act in accordance with the demand to bring a knife or a gun and to hide it under their clothes…”
A SOLDIER’S TESTIMONY
Kinley Tur-Paz. EXTRACT: The primary mission was to prevent hundreds of thousands of Gazans from infiltrating into our territory…
The IDF employs many creative means of reducing friction with Gazans and uses numerous methods, most of which are not made public, to prevent them from reaching the fence. When there is no alternative, and live ammunition must be used to stop those who storm the fence, the soldiers make heroic and sometimes dangerous efforts not to kill and to only injure those on the other side. The IDF stations senior commanders at every confrontation point to ensure that every shot is approved and backed up by a responsible figure with proper authority. Every staging area has an especially large number of troops in order to make sure that soldiers are not put into life-threatening situations where they will have no choice but to fire indiscriminately.
A situation where thousands of people rush you is frightening, even terrifying. It is extremely difficult to show restraint, and it requires calm, mature professionalism. Sixty-two dead is an enormous number. But I can testify from my first-hand experience, that every bullet and every hit is carefully reported, documented and investigated. Literally. I was there and I saw it with my own eyes.
OTHER PERSONAL TESTIMONIES FROM THE GAZA BORDER
Reuven Ben-Shalom (published last Thursday): Nonviolent demonstrations? I saw a war zone. On the Israeli side, soldiers took cover as they are constantly under attack…One side attacks; the other defends. One side initiates; the other responds. One side tries to get people injured and killed; the other makes every attempt to prevent it…Rules of engagement are strict and closely monitored. Each and every shot is approved by a senior commander. Every effort is made to avoid fatalities, so even when shooting is necessary, soldiers aim at the legs. Only individuals who are directly involved in carrying out attacks are targeted. No “protesters” are shot. Nothing is done randomly or indiscriminately. No one shoots into crowds.
Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan: “I’m here on the border in Gaza with some soldiers from the IDF, whom the world’s media is condemning for ‘massacring Palestinian civilians.’ These are the same as British soldiers, American soldiers, soldiers from any other democratic army. They’re doing their job, they’re working to rules of engagement; they’re trying to defend their country.” “What they don’t deserve is to be condemned and blamed for the deaths of Palestinian civilians from Gaza, which has deliberately been caused by Hamas. That’s what Hamas wanted — Hamas wanted the killing of their own people. The [Israeli soldiers] here are not responsible for that; they’re responsible for protecting the lives of their civilian population in Israel, which they’re doing extraordinarily well.”
Nicky Haley (U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.): EXTRACT: Hamas has attacked the Kerem Shalom crossing, the biggest entry point in Gaza for fuel, food, and medical supplies. This is how determined they are to make the lives of the Palestinian people miserable. They light Molotov cocktails attached to kites on fire and attempt to fly them into Israel to cause as much destruction as possible…This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake: Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday. (Monday)
the rush to demonize Israel and assume the worst intentions and actions without waiting to find out what really happened or to feel any empathy about the extreme dilemmas Israel’s terrorist foes place on its leaders and military provides Hamas with exactly the propaganda win they dreamed of when they carefully planned this operation.
Adam Levick: What country in the world would allow a proscribed terror group to infiltrate their border and jeopardize the lives of its citizens? Should Israel really allow dozens, hundreds, or thousands of Gazans to cross the border and, you know, just hope for the best? (Let’s recall, to give one comparable example, that US Border agents have shot Mexicans illegally trying to cross the border, and they certainly weren’t members or supporters of an armed terrorist group)
Ron Ben Yishai: The double and triple amount of attempts to breach the fence are what caused the double and tripled amount of casualties.
The IDF had no choice. There isn’t a non-lethal measure or obstacle that could prevent the crossing of the border.. It’s important to understand, the Gazans who were killed in the previous “marches of return,” were not defending their homes from an Israeli invasion, they were trying to invade Israel. Hamas even published the map of communities it planned to infiltrate.
The Australian:.”Any loss of life like this is tragic in circumstances like this, but Hamas’ conduct is confrontational. They’re seeking to provoke the IDF ,” Australian P.M. Malcolm Turnbull told 3AW Radio. “If they’re pushing people to the border in that context, in that conflict zone, you’re basically pushing people into circumstances where they are very likely to be shot at as Israel seeks to defend itself.” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, “We recognize that Israel has legitimate security concerns and needs to protect its population…. Australia urges Palestinian protesters to refrain from violence and attempting to enter into Israeli territory.”
(no link available)
Richard Kemp: I have heard many armchair experts arguing that Israel should have acted differently, but not one credibly explain how. Instead, the UN, EU and a range of human rights groups and media organizations have devoted their efforts to unjustly condemning Israel’s actions. If there was genuine concern for human life and human rights among these people, rather than a fixation on unfairly vilifying Israel, they would harshly condemn Hamas. Instead, their criticism of Israel plays directly into Hamas’s hands and validates the use of human shields and the strategy of forcing the killing of their own civilians.
Richard Kemp: Hamas’ use of actual smoke and mirrors to conceal its aggressive manoeuvering on the Gaza border is the perfect metaphor for a strategy that has no viable military purpose but seeks to deceive the international community into criminalizing a democratic state defending its citizens. The demonstrations are far from peaceful. They are carefully planned and orchestrated military operations intended to break through the border of a sovereign state and commit mass murder in the communities beyond.
Yoram Schweitzer: This is a deliberate, pre-planned strategy employed by movements like Hamas and Hezbollah in order to stain and disgrace the public image of the democracies that fight them in the eyes of the world. The images of dead civilians help them disguise their true nature and portray these movements as defenders of the victims while they use them as pawns. Israel has the right and moral obligation to prevent infiltration into its territory and to protect its towns and population that reside just a few hundred meters from the border.
(Rabbi) Eric H. Yoffie: Multiple commentators have argued that Israel’s military had alternative, non-lethal methods of restraint to contain the demonstrators. But this argument seems to me more a wish than a reality. 40,000 determined protestors cannot be contained with water hoses or conventional crowd control. Israel’s training of its soldiers was intense, instructions were detailed, and experienced officers were in command. Shoot-to-kill was not a first resort but an absolute last resort. If resorting to deadly force had been ruled out, a breach of the fence by thousands of demonstrators was likely inevitable.
Matti Friedman: Israeli soldiers facing Gaza have no good choices. They can warn people off with tear gas or rubber bullets, which are often ineffective, and if that doesn’t work, they can use live fire. Or they can hold their fire to spare lives and allow thousands of people to surge into Israel, some of whom will be armed fighters.
Bret Stephens: For the third time in two weeks, Palestinians in Gaza have set fire to the Kerem Shalom border crossing, through which they get medicine, fuel and other humanitarian essentials from Israel. There’s a pattern here – harm yourself, blame the other – and it deserves to be highlighted amid the torrent of morally blind, historically illiterate criticism to which Israelis are subjected every time they defend themselves against violent Palestinian attack.
Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin and Ari Heistein
The senior PA official who called the protest organizers frauds who send women, children and youths to their deaths is certainly right. Hamas seeking to make political gains by convincing hundreds to attack a border fence protected by armed guards is despicable.
GAZA: OTHER NEWS
The Hamas terrorist group on Wednesday refused to accept two shipments of medical supplies for Gaza hospitals, which are struggling with shortages, which were sent by Israel. On Tuesday, Israel facilitated the entrance of eight trucks full of medical equipment into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which reopened earlier that day after it was burned by Palestinian rioters last Friday.
Israel has begun enlisting amateur drone racers to deal with the onslaught of burning kites being flown from Gaza into Israel, where they start fires.
The drones either fly through the kites to shred them or down them with the help of fishhooks. On Saturday, a kite landed in Israel containing an explosive device hidden inside, with a remote detonator which could be operated from a mobile phone.
Firebomb-bearing kites sent over the Gaza border on Saturday sparked two brush fires in southern Israel,
Five homes in the Israeli city of Sderot were struck by Palestinian machine-gun fire on Wednesday evening
Attorney Sawsan Elkassem, 49 has been appointed to the Haifa Labour Court, the first Druze woman to be appointed as a judge.
The first-of-its-kind international Make-a-Thon brought together wounded veterans from the U.S., France and Israel, with innovation teams using 3D printing and other design and fabrication processes.
In a rare expression of support for an Israeli military operation, the foreign minister of Bahrain said last week that Israel’s attack on Iranian targets in Syria was legitimate in light of Tehran’s increasing aggression.
As Ankara slams Israel over the Gaza border crisis, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told an intelligence conference in Tel Aviv that Israel has provided secret intelligence to help Turkey prevent ISIS terrorist attacks.
Guatemala opened its embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning
A group of researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has developed a new molecule that they say inhibits the growth of cancer cells and also reprogrammes them to be noncancerous.