Hamas scales back Gaza riots; truce ‎efforts to renew ‎

Despite several attempts to breach the security fence, fires sparked by arson terrorism, IDF official says the weekend was “the quietest” since Hamas’ riot campaign began • Palestinians: Over 100 protesters wounded in riots • Egypt continues with truce efforts.

Hamas appears to have scaled back the violent riots on Gaza’s border with Israel, as seen in Friday’s demonstration – a weekly demonstration that had been getting increasingly more violent in recent weeks – which was ‎relatively low-key, defense officials said over the ‎weekend.‎

The military said that 10,000 ‎Palestinians rioted ‎near the border, torching tires and hurling stones, ‎grenades and explosives ‎at the troops across the ‎fence.‎

Video: Reuters

Three attempts to breach the security fence were ‎foiled, the IDF said.‎

Gaza’s Health Ministry reported that over 100 ‎‎Palestinians were wounded by IDF fire during ‎‎Friday’s riots. ‎

An Israeli Air Force aircraft bombed a Palestinian arson terrorism cell ‎on Saturday. The Palestinians reported that one man ‎was killed in the strike. ‎

In a separate incident, several explosive devices ‎discovered near the border fence on Saturday were ‎neutralized safely by military sappers. ‎

In a third incident, the Israeli Navy stopped a ‎Palestinian fishing boat carrying what the IDF described as “suspicious items neutralized by sappers.” Two ‎fishermen were arrested. ‎

Palestinian terrorists also launched dozens of ‎incendiary kites and balloons across the border over ‎the weekend, sparking nine fires in Israeli frontier ‎communities.‎

Reuters
Palestinian protesters trying to sabotage coiled barbed wire placed near the Israel-Gaza border, Friday

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot met over ‎‎the weekend with GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. ‎‎Herzl Halevi and senior commanders in the Gaza ‎‎Division and held several situation assessments.‎

‎”This was the ‎quietest weekend along the border since the riots ‎began [on March 30]. There were points along ‎the security fence where Hamas operatives were seen ‎instructing protesters to keep away from the fence,” ‎one IDF official noted.‎

Still, “In other places, where violence raged, ‎security forces took the proper action. This is not ‎something the IDF is willing to tolerate and the ‎demand from Hamas is that all the rioting stops entirely,” he ‎said.‎

On Thursday, Israel reinforced its deployment along ‎the Gaza border, a day after a Grad rocket fired from Gaza hit a home in Beersheba.‎ The attack prompted Israel to threaten a ‎forceful response if Gaza violence continues. ‎

On Sunday, after the relatively calm weekend, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered ‎the reopening of Israel’s border crossing with Gaza ‎‎– the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing and ‎Erez ‎pedestrian crossing – which were shuttered in the ‎wake ‎of Wednesday’s rocket fire. ‎

Egyptian security officials held separate meetings ‎in recent days with Israeli counterparts and ‎with the heads of Hamas and the other terrorist ‎groups in Gaza, in an effort to prevent an ‎escalation of violence.‎

Arab media reported that Egyptian intelligence chief ‎Abbas Kamel, who canceled his visit to Gaza after ‎Wednesday’s incident, is expected to visit the ‎coastal enclave and Israel on Thursday to cement a ‎truce deal. ‎

Kamel is also scheduled to meet with Palestinian ‎Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom he hopes to ‎convince to lift the economic sanctions imposed on ‎Gaza.‎

Still, Egyptian and Palestinian sources were quoted ‎by Arab media as saying that Hamas has not promised ‎Cairo that it will halt all border riots or its ‎arson terrorism campaign, but rather said it would ‎ensure protesters will remain 500 meters (1,600 feet) ‎away from the fence.‎

‎”This aims to allow Egypt to reach agreements with ‎Israel that would allow dozens of economic plans to ‎go through and improve life in Gaza,” one ‎Palestinian official said.‎

Some Arab media reports said that, despite Egypt’s ‎objections, Abbas plans to impose additional ‎sanctions on Gaza as part of effort to wrest ‎control of the coastal enclave back from Hamas. ‎In 2007, Hamas routed Abbas’ Fatah faction from Gaza in a particularly violent coup.

Qatar is said to be gearing up to circumvent these ‎sanctions and funnel the money with which Hamas ‎would be able to pay wages to its workers in Gaza. ‎ Doha has gone over Abbas’ head on the matter earlier ‎this month as well, sending energy-starved Gaza some ‎much-needed fueldespite Abbas’ attempts to stop it. ‎

King Abdullah Revokes Parts of Peace Treaty with Israel

Jordan will terminate revoke the appendices to its peace agreement with Israel relating to the leasing of Naharayim, or Baqoura, in Jordan, which is adjacent to the Israeli border, where the Yarmouk River flows into the Jordan River. The area includes the Island of Peace, over which Israelis were awarded private ownership and other rights under the 1994 peace treaty. Another area where the king wants to delete the appendix is Ghumar, an assortment of agricultural fields in Moshav Tzofar in the Arava desert.

Both areas were transferred temporarily to Israel for a period of 25 years, which is due to end on October 25, at which point the king must decide whether or not to renew the leases – although the actual term “lease” is not mentioned in the peace agreement appendices.

On Friday, a mass demonstration of tens of thousands took place in Amman, under the slogan: “The people want national honor.” The demonstrators demanded that the Jordanian government return the territories in question to Jordanian sovereignty. They also called for canceling the peace treaty with Israel altogether, expel the Israeli ambassador and close down the Israeli embassy.

Naturally, the thousands of demonstrators were drinking fresh water drawn from lake Kinneret and other Israeli water sources—as part of the same 1994 peace treaty. Many of them probably cashed their checks earned by working for one of the numerous Israeli owned manufacturing plants in and around Amman.

عبدالله بن الحسين

@KingAbdullahII

لطالما كانت الباقورة والغمر على رأس أولوياتنا، وقرارنا هو إنهاء ملحقي الباقورة والغمر من اتفاقية السلام انطلاقا من حرصنا على اتخاذ كل ما يلزم من أجل الأردن والأردنيين

Jews have held ownership rights in Naharayim since 1926, when a Jewish engineer from Russia, Pinchas Rutenberg, purchased a concession to build an electric plant there. The plant was overtaken by invading Jordanian Legion forces in 1948.

In Moshav Tzofar, the land was purchased legally from Jordan in 1994, and should the king insist on taking it back, the least he must do is pay its full value. Except that in a recent TV interview, former Jotdanian PM Abdul Salam Majali said he was hoping the Israelis would give the land back to Jordan free of charge.

Sara Netanyahu’s fraud trial begins, judge urges settlement

Prime minister’s wife is accused of defrauding the state by misusing public funds to purchase catered meals for the Prime Minister’s Residence, despite employing a full-time cook • Judge urges sides to narrow their differences “or even resolve the case.”

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared in court on Sunday on the first day of a fraud trial in which she will be fighting allegations that she misused public funds to order catered meals to the Prime Minister’s Residence.

According to the indictment, Sara Netanyahu fraudulently billed the state for hundreds of catered meals supplied by restaurants, bypassing regulations that prohibit the practice if a cook is employed at the residence.

Video: Reuters

She was charged in June with two counts: one of fraud and breach of trust and one of aggravated fraudulent receipt of goods. If convicted, Netanyahu could face up to five years in prison.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

Former Deputy Director General at the Prime Minister’s Office Ezra Saidoff has also been included in the indictment, with prosecutors saying that he played an active role in the alleged scheme and even tried to cover it up with forged documents.

Sunday’s court session dealt mainly with procedural matters. The judge set a meeting with the prosecutors and the defendants’ lawyers for Nov. 13 and said he hoped all sides could narrow their differences “or even resolve the case.”

However, at this stage, the chances of a settlement appear to be slim because the prosecutors are likely to demand a guilty plea, something Netanyahu’s lawyer has ruled out.

At Sunday’s hearing, she was not asked to enter a plea.

Netanyahu’s lawyers have argued that the indictment does not hold up because the regulations for ordering meals were legally invalid and a household employee had requisitioned the food despite Netanyahu’s protestations.

The prime minister, who himself is embroiled in a number of corruption investigations, has called the allegations against his wife absurd and unfounded.

Welcome 5779 Rosh Hashanah

Looking back at 5778, I have to say, it turned out to be a very good year, full of mostly pleasant surprises.

Without a doubt, President Donald Trump keeping his pre-election promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is Number One on the list of pleasant surprises for 5778.

The President’s ongoing and unwavering support for Israel in the UN via Ambassador Nikki Haley is another welcome change, and we certainly can’t ignore the U.S. policy changes regarding UNRWA and its false refugee narrative, as well as the passage of the Taylor Force Act. Trump also exited the very bad Iran JCPOA nuclear deal. The list of pleasant surprises from the Trump Administration for the Jewish People goes on.

Having said that, the talk of peace plans, even a “deal of the century” certainly leaves us with a lot of trepidation. They always fail, and they always bring more terror.

Last year we wrote, “I don’t know if we’ll be facing off in a full-scale war this year with Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies (or even Iran itself), but it appears we are headed in that direction. It will be a serious conflict on multiple fronts when it finally breaks out, this coming year or next.”

Israel managed to avoid a full-scale war up north, while simultaneously restricting, for the most part, Hezbollah’s access to advanced missile technology from Iran.

But there was fighting. Enemy rockets managed to shoot down an Israeli F-16i, Iranian rockets landed in the Kinneret, and Iranian drones and a Syrian pilot penetrated into Israel’s airspace. On the flip side, Israel launched over 200 successful attacks against Iranian targets in Syria, knocking out the majority of the Syrian/Iranian advanced air defense systems, while maintaining a strong diplomatic push to keep Iran away from the Israeli border.

The other big story of the year, of course, was Israel acquisition of Iran’s secret nuclear archives in a daring Mossad mission. That pretty much surprised everyone.

Hamas went the other way, inventing new strategies using low-tech terror kites and arson balloons that set the south on fire, which the IDF brass felt morally helpless to stop, letting Israel’s south take a bit of a beating.

Speaking of low-tech terror, Jewish organizations (and a Jewish news website) found themselves infiltrated by anti-Israel activists who used social media to amplify their message beyond their actual scope of influence. For the most part, those infiltrations failed to influence their intended targets and simply managed to make some fleeting headlines.

As predicted, the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas went the way of all their previous reconciliations, but that wasn’t a hard prediction to make.

Other major events of 5778 include:

  • Israel passing the Nation-State law.
  • Yitzhak Herzog becoming head of the Jewish Agency, replacing Natan Sharansky.
  • Elor Azaria freed from jail (and denied a personal gun license).
  • Netta Barzilai winning the Eurovision song contest for Israel.
  • A large stone falling out of the Kotel.
  • Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon’s failed social engineering experiment in the real estate market continuing to fail, but now the public is finally realizing it’s a bad idea.
  • The 70th year celebration of Israel’s independence.

There has been an upsurge in anti-Semitism, and we may very well see a lot of new Olim from the UK joining us in Israel. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks speaking out so explicitly against Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was also a welcome surprise.

There’s no doubt that the mainstreaming of anti-Israel / pro-BDS candidates in the U.S. Democratic party is becoming cause for concern.

With so many surprises this past year, I’m hesitant to make any predictions for next year.

We may see a real war with Gaza, while up north we may see more of the same as this past year. Israeli elections may, or may not come early this year, though there will definitely be a lot of election year campaigning.

We will see the launch of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv high-speed train — we hope.

In short, a lot of maybes.

So leaving you without any real predictions for 5779, all we can offer are our best wishes, Shana Tova u’Metuka a Sweet and Happy New Year, from all of us at The Jewish Press.

                                                    

US Rejects UN Court Jurisdiction on Iran Suit Over Nuke Deal Withdrawal, Sanctions

Photo Credit: Lybil BER via Wikimedia
The International Court of Justice

Iran, on Monday, asked the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order President Donald Trump to lift the sanctions he imposed on the Islamic Republic, and to reverse his unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, and suspend his accusations about Iran’s spreading terrorism in Middle Eastern countries.

Iran argues Trump’s moves violated a decades-old Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations signed between Iran and the US in 1955. Of course, in 1979, Iran violated every possible aspect of the same treaty, when it invaded the American embassy in Tehran and kept embassy staff hostage for more than a year.

The American delegation was given three hours to present its initial response on Tuesday.

The response the U.S. gave to the U.N. judges a short time later was that they have no jurisdiction to rule on Iran’s demand.

U.S. State Department lawyer Jennifer Newstead told the International Court of Justice in The Hague that it “lacks prima facie jurisdiction to hear Iran’s claims,” according to an AFP report. She argued that the U.S. has the right to protect its national security interests.

The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial body of the United Nations. It settles legal disputes between member states and gives advisory opinions to authorized UN organs and specialized agencies. The court comprises a panel of 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms. It is seated in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.

In contentious cases, the ICJ produces a binding ruling between states that agree to submit to the ruling of the court.

Hebron Arab Smuggled Knife into Jerusalem to Kill a Yarmulke Wearing Jew

he Jerusalem District Court on Thursday indicted Saliman Kapisha, 26, a resident of Hebron, for preparing for a deadly stabbing and for possession of a knife.

According to the indictment, Kapisha decided to carry out a suicide attack in the Old City of Jerusalem, where he intended to kill a Jew wearing a yarmulke. To this end, he acquired a folding knife with a fixed blade about 4 inches long, and a pepper spray can.

His plan was to locate a suitable victim, pepper-spray him, then stab him in the neck or back when he couldn’t defend himself.

On August 8, Kepisha left Hebron for Jerusalem carrying a bag containing a change of clothes, the knife and the pepper spray can.

Before leaving, he returned to his brother the mobile phone he had borrowed from him, and threw the SIM card into the trash so that he could not be located.

Kapisha traveled from Hebron to the village of az-Za’ayyem, about 2 miles east of Jerusalem, where he entered Israel through a breach in the fence. He then took a taxi to the Old City of Jerusalem.

He arrived at the Old City around 9 PM, and wandered for about two hours, holding the plastic bag in his hand and looking for a suitable victim and a proper location in which to carry out his plan.

After about two hours of walking through the streets of the Old City, Kapisha decided to postpone the attack for the following day, and started searching for a spot where he could sleep until morning.

At approximately 12:15 AM, police noticed him near the Damascus Gate. When a policeman was searching his bag, the defendant fled the scene, but was caught after a brief chase.

    

‘The Israel Bible’ merging Jewish, Christian history

Jerusalem (aerial view)

A Jewish scholar is touting a first-of-its-kind Bible that is designed to help give Christians a unique perspective on the people and land of Israel.

American Rabbi Tuly Weisz and a team of biblical scholars published The Israel Bible, a new commentary and study on the Hebrew Bible – the Old Testament Scriptures.

Weisz explained that the Hebrew text is found on the left side of the page – along with a parallel English translation on the right side.

“We provide all kinds of ways for readers to learn the Hebrew language by reading through the Bible,” Weisz informed.  “Then, of course, on the bottom of the page, we have hundreds and hundreds of study notes that really bring to life the land of Israel through the ancient text.”

Weisz – who has lived in Israel for the last seven years – told OneNewsNow that The Israel Bible is a “No. 1 New Release” in both Jewish and Christian Bible categories on Amazon.

“If you love Israel – if you love the Bible – then The Israel Bible is really for you,” the Bible scholar insisted. “The commentary was prepared by a team of Jewish scholars that was prepared for a Christian readership – the first Bible of its kind.”

Weisz – the founder of Israel 365 – pointed out that with regards to the history of Jews and Christians, the focus has always been on what separates the two. He says that this new publication sets out to do the exact opposite.

“[Our] focus is on that which unites us, and that’s the Old Testament – the Hebrew Bible,” Weitz stressed. “And that’s a holy text to both Jews and to Christians.”