Israel Update: 21 December 2017
Following this attack, the Israel Air Force hit several Hamas targets in Gaza overnight Monday.
Following rocket & mortar fire targeting Israel in the past fortnight, the IDF has attacked 40 Hamas targets.
Hamas in Gaza has in recent days arrested many Salafi militants responsible for the recent rocket launches at Israel…Since Dec.6, nearly 30 rockets have been fired at Israel, but around half fell short and landed in Gaza (see below)
A Gazan rocket fired at Israel last week struck a school in Gaza, destroying a classroom. The IDF Government Coordinator of Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said, “The terrorists in Gaza…are destroying their children’s future with their own hands.
A Gazan rocket fired at Israel on Friday fell short and hit the Beit Hanoun home of a top Hamas official, Palestinian media reported.
A Palestinian who stabbed an Israeli border police officer outside Ramallah last Friday was shot. The attacker, wearing what looked like a suicide belt, had been standing among journalists at the scene, pretending to be one before the attack, which allowed him to get closer to Israeli troops unnoticed.
At the time of writing (Thursday afternoon) the UN General Assembly is meeting for an emergency debate on the unilateral American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. A draft resolution against the recognition is expected to be approved. Although the vote is mainly symbolic, Israel’s ambassadors worldwide have been directed to urge countries to oppose the resolution emphasizing (inter alia) that Jerusalem was the de facto capital of Israel long before the U.S. recognized it as such.. they will also pledge to maintain freedom of religion and the status quo in the city.
Nikki Haley US Ambassador to the UN –made two speeches on December 18. Both are worth reading in full. Extracts below:
After the UN Security Council vote on the Jerusalem resolution on Monday, Ms Haley explained the US veto: “The fact that this veto is being done in defence of American sovereignty and in defence of America’s role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us; it should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the Security Council.” “What we witnessed here today in the Security Council is an insult. It won’t be forgotten. It’s one more example of the United Nations doing more harm than good in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Also: “Given the chance to vote again on Resolution 2334, I can say with complete confidence that the United States would vote “no.”
The Israeli Navy was invited by the Greek Hellenic Navy to take part in a two-week NATO exercise in November, a symbol of a growing partnership between the Israeli Navy and NATO fleets Bilateral naval ties with France are also increasing. A naval source said: “The French arrive in Israel a lot. They have kind of turned Haifa into their home port….Sometimes the French Navy is here more than the American Navy, which is our biggest partner.”
Groundbreaking surgery, the first of its kind in the world, to regrow part of a human bone was carried out on Tuesday at HaEmek Hospital, Afula. Doctors took fat cells from the patient, grew them in a lab and injected them back into his body to generate the missing parts of the bone using a procedure developed by Israeli biotechnology company Bonus BioGroup
Soroka University Medical Centre has a national training centre in the use of advanced ultrasound systems. Recently, a special course was held to include physicians from hospitals from all over the country, with participation from Palestinian doctors from the West Bank and Gaza. Tamer Abu Greis, an anesthesiology resident said “I welcome the cooperation between Palestinian doctors and Israeli doctors. I know many [Palestinian] interns who study in Israeli hospitals. There are many Palestinian patients who go to Israeli hospitals, because there is no doubt that medicine in Israel is strong and we can learn from them. I hope the cooperation will continue.” During the course, the instructors also travelled to hospitals in the West Bank to examine patients with the local staff.
A blueprint for U.S. national security presented on Monday notes: “For generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.”
Senior U.S. administration officials outlined their view last Friday that Jerusalem’s Western Wall ultimately will be declared a part of Israel stating: “We cannot envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel. But as the president said, the specific boundaries of sovereignty of Israel are going to be part of the final status agreement”.
A UK government White Paper has identified Israel as a trade priority for post-Brexit Britain. The number of Israeli companies setting up in the UK in the year after the referendum has increased by 28% – with a 34% increase in the level of investment and a 13% increase in jobs created in the UK.
CO-OPERATION WITH TURKEY & JORDAN
25% of Turkey’s trade with Gulf countries passes through Haifa Port, and Turkish Airways is the busiest foreign carrier at Ben-Gurion Airport.
20% of Jordan’s exports also go through Haifa Port.
INCLUSIVITY IN THE IDF
IDF Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu-Rokun has been appointed to head the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. He will become the second Druse officer to head the unit, which is in charge of Israeli and Palestinian civilian life in Area C of the West Bank
Corporal Amir Rav’e, a 19-year-old Muslim, whose family was born in Hebron, moved to Lod and today lives in Beersheba, is one of hundreds of Arabs, Muslim and Christian, who have chosen to volunteer for the IDF—a slow, but steadily increasing trend.
Most of King Herod’s Third Palace lies within Area A of the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority has exclusive control. Recently, a visiting team from the Kfar Etzion Field School discovered that the Palestinians had built housing around it, with some of the homes constructed on the grounds of the palace itself. Reportedly, the remains of the palace are being systematically demolished to construct a road. The historic edifice is being stripped of its stone, and the supporting pillars and arches have been defaced.
COMMENT & OPINION – JERUSALEM
Richard Pollock: How exactly did Arab Muslims treat Christians and Jews when they ruled over eastern Jerusalem for 19 years from 1948 until 1967? The Jewish Quarter of the Old City and many of the most sacred Jewish sites were located in the eastern half of the city ruled by Jordan. Even though the armistice promised “free access to the holy sites and cultural institutions and use of the cemeteries on the Mount of Olives,” Jews were banished entirely from the holy city. From 1948 onward, there were no Jewish homes, synagogues or businesses in ancient Jerusalem. Some 17,000 Jews had to leave the area, their homes taken over and occupied by Arabs. When the Israelis entered the eastern part of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War in 1967, they found 56 synagogues desecrated or totally destroyed by the Jordanian army or local Arabs.
The Arab governing bodies also persecuted the Christian church and its followers during the same period. Edicts prohibited Christians and later Christian churches from buying land and houses in the Old City of Jerusalem…They further imposed strict rules on Christian schools, including mandatory teaching of the Muslim Koran. Between 1948 and 1967, two-thirds of the Christians left areas of Arab control in Jerusalem.
Emmanuel Navon: Jerusalem is commonly designated in Islamic sources as Bayit al-Maqdis,which is the Arabic transliteration of the Hebrew Beit Hamikdash (which means “temple”). A travel guide published by the Supreme Muslim Council in 1924 described the Temple Mount as the ancient site of Solomon’s Temple. The Palestinians’ “Temple denial” is therefore a new phenomenon that contradicts Muslim tradition. It flies in the face of historical evidence… and it is deeply offensive to the Jewish faith. The Palestinians’ historical denials remain a major obstacle to an agreement on the final status of Jerusalem. Disrespect for other faiths leads to the desecration of their holy places…Only Israeli sovereignty has guaranteed religious freedom and the preservation of the holy places for all.
Marc D Angel: The Muslim Ottoman Empire, which controlled the Land of Israel for hundreds of years, could very easily have established a Muslim country there with Jerusalem as its capital city. The thought never occurred to them. Jerusalem was an old, decrepit city that no one (except Jews) cared very much about. There was no call for a Palestinian state, and no claim that Jerusalem should be the capital of a Muslim country. Between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan controlled the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem, it did not cede one inch of territory to Palestinian Arab rule and did not declare Jerusalem the capital city of the Palestinians.
Shlomo Avineri : President Trump said explicitly that recognizing Jerusalem and moving the embassy do not in any way determine the borders and the U.S. supports the two-state solution – if it is acceptable to both sides. The Palestinian response ignored these two statements, which in practice say that as far as the final agreement is concerned, the Trump administration’s stance is not significantly different than the position of previous American administrations…The roots of this response, which joined a long list of historic missed Palestinian opportunities, can be found in the inability to live with compromise, which characterizes the Arab political discourse in general.