Thursday, April 26, 2018

26-Apr-18: Terrorist who was intercepted trying to bomb the Jerusalem Light Rail is convicted

Jerusalem Light Rail (illustrative)
A little-reported terrorist attack on Jerusalem's mass-transit Light Rail two summers ago resulted in a conviction in Jerusalem District Court today. (There's very little coverage, at least so far, in any news channels of today's conviction.)

A Palestinian Arab student from Beit Ila, was stopped on July 15, 2016 while equipped with three pipe bombs, explosives and knives, en route to carry out  a so-called revenge attack on commuters.

Ali Abu Hassan, 20 years old, was convicted today of attempted murder. According to Times of Israel, the court found that the accused “planned to carry out a mass terror attack”.

He had approached the city via the Arab community of Tsur Baher on Jerusalem's south side, intending to wreak “revenge for visits by tourists and Israeli Jews to the Temple Mount”. The three pipe bombs in his possession were tied together to form a single large and powerful explosive that, as an added feature, was covered with nails and screws that had been dipped in rat poison. He had two knives and a cellphone in his bag.

A Ynet report published on August 2, 2016 shortly after his arrest was revealed adds additional details. He was a civil engineering student at Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron. He made and tested the bombs himself, setting off explosives in open areas in and Hebron. Evidently appreciating the risk to his own life, he left a will at the university before setting out to commit the planned murders:
On July 17, near 9am, Abu Hassan arrived at the Jaffa Center stop, where he was observing passersby. It was then that he was spotted by a vigilant security guard who asked Abu Hassan to open his bag for inspection. The terrorist ignored the request, which led the security guard to restrain him by force while another guard took the bag.
The Jerusalem Post reported at about the same time that
during Ramadan in the summer of 2016, after seeing news websites and Facebook posts showing Jews entering the Temple Mount complex, he made up his mind to attack, kill Jews and become a martyr. According to a joint police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigation, Abu Hassan entered Israeli territory the day before the attempted attack through nearby Wadi Sur Bahir, and then changed his clothes into sportswear “to blend into the population,” police said. “The next day, during the early morning, he prayed in a mosque nearby, boarded a bus in Talpiot reaching the city center, and began to walk along the railway tracks on Jaffa Road until reaching the intersection of Jaffa and King George streets,” police said. “When he arrived at the light rail stop at Jaffa station, he began to explore the surroundings in order to find a place for the attack.” The joint investigation determined that Abu Hassan then observed the station from a nearby restaurant, and decided to target it after seeing many people boarding and exiting the train. Noting the suspect’s suspicious behavior, security guards stationed nearby questioned him and discovered he had three pipe bombs in his bag. They immediately placed him under arrest, and cleared the area of civilians... The light rail was shut down for over an hour, until the bombs were neutralized and the area cleared.
We owe great gratitude to the constant vigilence of Israel's security personnel.

Monday, April 23, 2018

23-Apr-18: Bret Stephens on Israel's robust willingness to defend itself

Familiar scenes - from seven years ago [Image Source]
In a punchy New York Times column published this past Friday ["Jewish Power at 70 Years"], Bret Stephens starts out talking about a hate crime - with an intriguing twist - in today's Germany. But then he heads off in the direction of the Middle East and the challenges posed to Israelis by the people on the far side of our borders.

Here's a first extract:
On Friday, Palestinians in Gaza returned for the fourth time to the border fence with Israel, in protests promoted by Hamas. The explicit purpose of Hamas leaders is to breach the fence and march on Jerusalem. Israel cannot possibly allow this — doing so would create a precedent that would encourage similar protests, and more death, along all of Israel’s borders — and has repeatedly used deadly force to counter it. The armchair corporals of Western punditry think this is excessive. It would be helpful if they could suggest alternative military tactics to an Israeli government dealing with an urgent crisis against an adversary sworn to its destruction. They don’t. It would also be helpful if they could explain how they can insist on Israel’s retreat to the 1967 borders and then scold Israel when it defends those borders. They can’t.
He's right. We're old enough to remember the coordinated Arab assaults on multiple Israeli bordersseven years ago in conjunction with Naqba Day - May 14 and 15, 2011 and around the same time as the ill-fated and unfortunately-named Arab Spring.

A BBC report at the time ["Palestinian protests: Arab spring or foreign manipulation?", BBC, May 15, 2011] said the not-so-peaceful "protestors"
undoubtedly embodied the same kind of risk-taking, confrontational people-power ethos that has fired the revolts in many parts of the Arab world.
How did that risk-taking confrontation play out?


Lebanon
In Lebanon, some 30,000 people were pulled together by the organizers near Lebanon's Israel border and walked towards it just opposite the northern Israeli town of Avivim. Soldiers of the Lebanese army first fired into the air to deter them. But then, as they headed recklessly into and across a border minefield throwing stones towards the Israeli and shouting into the hills for a "right of return", the Lebanese forces shot at them with assault rifles and tear gas. Before the retreat was completed, 11 participants were dead and about 100 injured.


Egypt
On the Egyptian border, thousands were reported to about to make their way from Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other points of origin toward the Rafah crossing with Gaza. But the military regime then in power intervened, warning bus companies not to answer the convoy organizers' requests. The few buses that did set off were stopped by the military and in the end, according to Ma'an, only some 80 individuals equipped with flags and an arsenal of angry demands and slogans got to the border. 


Fatahland
According to Wikipedia, around 300 West Bank "protesters" assembled at the Qalandiya Crossing - a busy crossing point - to demonstrate, forming human chains, staging sit-downs, hurling rocks. About 120 were said to be affected by tear gas, stink-spray and other crowd-dispersal means. BBC: "Clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint in Ramallah continued for hours, with dozens of Palestinians injured. Palestinian protesters threw stones at Israeli security forces, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets."


Jordan
In Jordan, about 500 Palestinian Arab Jordanians were prevented by Jordanian army and police forces from doing harm at the Allenby Bridge, the major crossing point into the West Bank and Israel. They used tear gas and other similar tools and some 25 people were reported injured, including 11 Jordanian police. A Ma'an report said the Hamas-aligned Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and what Ma'an called "the powerful Islamic Action Front" termed this "shocking" and turning reality on its end demanded "an end to such policies that have harmed Jordan's image". 


Syria
On Israel's Syria border, 20 buses of "protestors" arrived from Damascus on Naqba Day, May 15, 2011. According to the BBC, the IDF said it "had only fired warning shots as a large number of protesters tried to breach a border fence near the village of Majdal Shams. But reports said at least two people had been killed and dozens injured. Israel's army says this is a "serious" incursion. Brig Gen Yoav Mordechai said soldiers were still trying to control the crowds and that dozens of protesters had crossed. The army has reportedly sealed off Majdal Shams and is carrying out house-to-house searches for "infiltrators"... "We are seeing here an Iranian provocation, on both the Syrian and the Lebanese frontiers, to try to exploit the Nakba day commemorations," Gen Mordechai said... Syria denounced Israeli actions in the Golan Heights and Lebanon as "criminal", Agence France-Presse news agency reported. "Israel will have to bear full responsibility for its actions," the foreign ministry said." The NY Times said "some 13 Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded from thrown rocks." And Ynet, quoting an IDF enquiry, said "nearly 1,000 Syrians approached the fence, with Syrian border forces unable – or unwilling – to stop them. About 300 protesters, including children, rushed the fences and crossed over onto Israeli soil..."

Some weeks later, those May 2011 events in Syria were revealed to have actually been planned ahead of time by the Assad regime. This is all documented in an expose ["Report: Document Reveals Nakba Day Clashes Planned by Syria Government", Haaretz, June 14, 2011]. The bused-in attackers had attempted to breach Israel's border which was the plan. The Haaretz report quotes a Syrian government memo: "Permission is hereby granted allowing approaching crowds to cross the cease fire line (with Israel) towards the occupied Majdal-Shamms, and to further allow them to engage physically with each other in front of United Nations agents and offices. Furthermore, there is no objection if a few shots are fired in the air." There are clear parallels with what's happening now on Israel's Gaza frontier.

Then in June 2011, again on the Syria side of its border with Israel, large numbers of assailants purporting to "protest" were again bused in from Damascus. A Jerusalem Postreport quoted Syrian officials saying 23 were killed and 350 injured "as they attempted over the course of several hours to breach the barbed-wire border".
...

The Bret Stephens essay dwells as well on the intriguing case of Adam Armoush. Thought, when the story initially emerged, to be a young German Jew, he is in reality a 21-year-old Israeli Arab living in Germany 
who, on a recent outing in Berlin, donned a yarmulke to test a friend’s contention that it was unsafe to do so in Germany. On Tuesday he was assaulted in broad daylight by a Syrian asylum-seeker who whipped him with a belt for being “yahudi” — Arabic for Jew. The episode was caught on video and has caused a national uproar... There were nearly 1,000 reported anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin alone last year...
Stephens then connects Israel and Europe:
To be Jewish — at least visibly Jewish — in Europe is to live on borrowed time... There’s a limit to how many armed guards can be deployed indefinitely to protect synagogues or stop Holocaust memorials from being vandalized... There are many reasons to celebrate the date [of Israel's 70th anniversary a few days ago], many of them lofty: a renaissance for Jewish civilization; the creation of a feisty liberal democracy in a despotic neighborhood; the ecological rescue of a once-barren land; the end of 1,878 years of exile. But there’s a more basic reason. Jews cannot rely for their safety on the kindness of strangers... Hence Israel: its army, bomb, and robust willingness to use force to defend itself. Israel did not come into existence to serve as another showcase of the victimization of Jews. It exists to end the victimization of Jews... Though not Jewish, Adam Armoush was once one of the nonchalant when it came to what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. Presumably no longer. For Jews, it’s a painful, useful reminder that Israel is not their vanity. It’s their safeguard. 
Well said.

Friday, April 20, 2018

20-Apr-18:"Moderate" Palestinian Arab president-for-life rolls out red carpet for a murdering "Fatah knight"

Image Source: Times of Israel
While Palestinian Arab extremism is currently being driven from Gaza, and along with it the bulk of media attention from the Arab world and more broadly, the envious Fatah factionists of the Palestinian Authority are not far behind. And constantly on the look for opportunities to grab some of the limelight.

Mahmoud Abbas, who in addition to regaling in the title of president of the Palestinian Authority heads Fatah, features in a Times of Israel news report that shines some light - or perhaps it's more appropriate to say darkness - on how the moderate strain of Palestinianism views the cold-blooded murder of Israeli civilians.

The report describes the gala welcome-home reception bestowed on Rajaei Haddad. He recently completed serving a 20-year sentence in an Israel prison for murder. Naturally, he's hailed in their circles (literally) as “a leader, a hero, and a fighter.”

Palestinian Authority TV showed footage of the meeting between Abbas and Haddad, who spent two decades in prison for his role in the November 1997 murder of yeshiva student Gabriel Hirschberg הי"ד in Jerusalem's Old City of Jerusalem.

Here's how the terrorist murder was reported in the New York Times
At about a quarter past midnight, Mr. Hirschberg, 26, was walking with a friend in the dark alley when a gunman believed to be a Palestinian militant sprayed them with automatic weapons fire. Both of the students were unarmed and unaccompanied by the yeshiva's security guards or border police who guard the area. 
Mr. Hirschberg, an immigrant from Hungary, was killed; his friend was badly wounded. (Initial reports said the second man also died.) The police said the weapon used was an AK-47 assault rifle. No arrests were reported, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility... 
In the alley where Gabriel Hirschberg was cut down by a burst of automatic weapons fire early today in Jerusalem's walled Old City, four of his fellow yeshiva students held a study session opposite a makeshift memorial of Israeli flags and a candle. Bent over religious books, the students from the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva -- run by a right-wing group that has been buying homes in the Muslim quarter and elsewhere in East Jerusalem -- recited their lessons as Palestinian schoolgirls walked by warily, averting their eyes. 
''This is to wake people up,'' said one of the yeshiva student, sitting near a bullet-scarred wall. ''Something happened here.'' ["A Jew's Slaying Fuels Tensions in Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter", NY Times, November 21, 1997]
On April 10, 2018, the PA's official television station aired a report on the festivities surrounding the convicted murderer's return to Palestinian Arab society. It emphasized, according to the Times of Israel report, 
that our leadership gives top priority to the issue of our prisoners. "The president asked me about each and every one,” Haddad said. 
It also mentions - quoting an Arabic language report translated to English by the MEMRI Middle East Media Research Institute - that the gala event, held in Jerusalem, was graced by the presence of senior members of Fatah, the dominant faction in the ruling Palestinian Authority.

Some nauseating violence-adoring quotes worth noting:
  • The convicted murderer: "The president [Abbas] asked me about each and every one. Let me thank the president for this meeting – he cleared his schedule so that we could meet immediately after my release. We sat together for a full hour, and he listened to me. He asked me about the prisoners, listened to me, and wrote down everything. The president sends his regards [to the prisoners]. He heard what I had to say."
  • “First, let me salute our prisoners who are languishing in prison,” said Fatah Revolutionary Council secretary Adnan Ghaith, “Here, in our capital of Jerusalem, our people welcome a leader, a hero, and a fighter, who sacrificed 20 years for the sake of Jerusalem, Palestine, and our great people.”
  • Fatah said the celebrations were intended to send a message to the Israelis that the issue of prisoners and “martyrs” was non-negotiable.
  • “I am very happy to join the people of Jerusalem, our eternal capital, in welcoming this Fatah knight, who spent 20 years in the prisons of the Israeli occupation, in defense of our land, our people, our independence and our freedom,” said Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Moheisen. “This (event) is a message of loyalty to the prisoners, the heroes. It is also a message to the occupation that the issue of the prisoners and martyrs is where we draw the line.”
To remind ourselves of the unbridgeable gulf between us and the blood-lusting thugs arrayed against Israeli society, a brief video clip from the November 1997 funeral of Gabriel Hirschberg of blessed memory:


As far as we can tell, there was trivial-to-no news reporting coverage (other than in Israel) for the public honoring by our peace partner of this unrepentant murderer of Israeli civilians.

May Gabriel Hirschberg's memory continue to be a blessing for the people of Jerusalem and Israel.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

17-Apr-18: Remembering and redeeming [VIDEO]

Exactly three years ago, Arnold Roth was a keynote speaker at the Toronto Jewish community's commemoration of Israel's 67th Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut) and the day that precedes it each year - Yom Hazikaron, Israel's national Memorial Day.

In that April 2015 speech, Arnold reflected on what some consider the strangeness of a day of deep sadness being bracketed closely with national jubilation.

His speech, under the title Remembrance and Redemption, is the subject of the video embedded below.


In it, he touches on the song that Malki, our murdered daughter, composed in the last year of her life: several versions of it, all freely downloadable, are here, along with some of the background to its creation and aftermath.

He also shared aspects of a not-so-pleasant experience - as Israel's representative - addressing an international conference on terror and its victims, convened in New York City by the Secretary General of the United Nations in 2008. (A Haaretz report of that conference and of Arnold's speech is here.) That speech is the source of the audio track accompanying a short introductory film clip that was shown to the audience in Toronto and which takes up the first 4m 20s of the YouTube video clip.

[Sincere thanks to Mizrachi Canada for their permission to show this selection from their longer video recording (online here) of a memorable night of communal introspection and celebration.]

Sunday, April 15, 2018

15-Apr-18: On Israel's violent Gaza border, a battle of narratives

Friday's action on the Gaza side [Image Source]
We're into Week 3 of the Hamas-driven violence on Israel's Gaza border. And despite some serious efforts by Al Jazeera and others to "keep it in the forefront of the Arab public agenda" [Washington Post, April 13, 2018], the signs are that those Gazan riots do
not dominate the Arab media to the extent one might have expected. The events erupted in the middle of a crowded regional political agenda. In previous Arab-Israeli crises, popular Arab media outlets would have typically broadcast wall-to-wall coverage accompanied by furious talk shows and mobilizational programming, drowning out all other issues. This time, while most Arab media did cover the Gaza protests and subsequent violence, many key outlets covered it as one issue among many. These changes are rooted in fundamental alterations in the structure of the Arab media and the underlying political conflicts that have evolved since the 2011 Arab uprisings... [Washington Post, April 13, 2018]
Official Israeli sources are said [here for instance] to believe there is a gradual decrease in the number of Gazans participating in the "protests". And there are signs of news media weariness - even in the Arab world - with how Palestinian Arab "victimhood" is being milked in these staged Gaza border events. Here's an illustration.

It's not usually recognized by news consumers far from the scene but those reports of Arab casualties - the dead, the wounded on the Gazan side - always emanate from the Gazan Ministry of Health. Sounds reasonable, right? And would they lie?

But that ministry is an operating arm of the terrorist organization called Hamas. The name is an acronym based on Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah whose English translation is Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas is a Palestinian Arab Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organization which was formed by and remains affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mid-afternoon today (Saturday), this report was published by one of the Palestinian Arab news agencies:
Four people were killed and others injured on Saturday in an Israeli artillery attack targeting a group of citizens who were riding a three-wheeled tuk tuk motorcycle east of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses and a medical source in Rafah said that Israeli artillery shelled the eastern border of Rafah targeting a group of young men who  were moving rubber tires near the eastern border of the city. Dr. Ashraf al-Qadra the spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Gaza said that 4 Palestinians were  killed & several others wounded  in different Israeli shelling, pointing out that the martyrs and injuries arrived to  Abu Yousef al-Najjar hospitals. ["Four Palestinians were killed in Israeli artillery shelling east of Rafah", Palestine News Network, April 14, 2018]
Ma'an News Agency's version
And this version from the notorious Ma'an News Agency:
Four Palestinians were killed and others injured after Israeli artillery shelling targeted an auto rickshaw in the city of Rafah, in southern Gaza Strip, on Saturday afternoon. Locals told Ma’an that Israeli artillery stationed along the border with Gaza fired missiles at the auto rickshaw, killing four and injuring other passers-by. The four slain Palestinians were identified as Amjad Qartous, 18, Ayed Hamaydeh, 23, Hesham Kallab, 18, and Hesham Abdul-Al, 22. All four victims are from the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah...  Despite widespread outcry from international rights groups who have condemned Israel’s excessive use of forces against the civilian protesters, Israeli has maintained its open-fire rules for the Gaza border. ["4 Palestinians, 2 teenagers, killed after Israeli artillery fire targets auto rickshaw", Ma'an, April 14, 2018]
Turns out this is not, in reality, another case of Israeli artillery liquidating innocent and unarmed Palestinian Arabs - two teenagers! - going about their ordinary weekend activities.

From Arab media April 14, 2018, the Al Quds Brigade
(Islamic Jihad) "accidental martyrs" [Image Source]
The IDF (according to this source today) usually declares military strikes on the Strip but said today that "contrary to reports" it had not carried out any military activity in Gaza at the time. Now a Times of Israel report this evening explains:
Palestinian terror organization Islamic Jihad said Saturday that four of its members were killed in an accidental explosion near the Gaza Strip border with Israel. The group said in a statement that the four died during “preparations,” without giving further details. Army Radio reported that the terrorists were killed while carrying explosives in an all-terrain vehicle, suggesting the blast may have been a “work accident.” AFP said they were riding a tuk tuk vehicle which exploded a few hundred meters from the border with Israel. The four fatalities were named as Hisham Abdel Al, Elias Al Katrous, Ae’d Al Hamaydeh, and Mohammad Al Krinawi, according to Palestinian sources. Islamic Jihad is an ally of terrorist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. The group, which is supported by Iran, has fought alongside Hamas against Israel in multiple wars, most recently in 2014. ["Four Islamic Jihad members killed in Gaza explosion", Times of Israel, April 14, 2018]
(There's nothing unusual in the names of the dead Palestinian Arabs being different from one account to another.)

Some aspects of what was reported about yesterday's (Friday's) chapter in the planned six-week-long agitation on the Gaza side of the Israel border
  • "One Palestinian, Ahmed Hirzallah, 28, was shot dead and 416 others were injured" [Palestine Chronicle, April 13, 2018]
  • "One Palestinian was declared dead after being shot by Israeli gunfire Friday evening. Another 968 were wounded as another day of clashes erupted between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli forces along the Israel-Gaza border. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza identified the 28-year-old as Islam Rushdi Hirzallah..." [i24News.tv, April 13, 2018]
  • Israel once again "used extreme violence to brutally crush these peaceful protests... More than 900 Palestinian protesters were wounded in the violent Israeli crackdown, according to Gaza health officials... During the April 13 protest, the violence was once again clearly premediated. Media reports noted that, in advance of the peaceful demonstration, the Israeli military had deployed tanks, drones, and snipers to the border.Israel has claimed that the peaceful protests, which are known as the Great March of Return, are being used to cover up so-called terrorism. However there is no independent evidence that Palestinian demonstrators have used the demonstrations to launch any attacks." ["Israel Mows Down Unarmed Gaza Protesters for 3rd Week as US Blocks UN Investigation", IMEMC, April 14, 2018]
  • "At least four Palestinians were killed in Gaza Saturday, Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed saying the deaths were the result of a tank shell attack by Israel’s Army just east of the city of Rafah. However, Reuters reported an Israeli military spokesman saying “we have no knowledge of any Israeli strike in the area,” denying involvement. Local residents told Reuters the four men were members of the Islamic Jihad group, but this hasn’t been confirmed yet." [Telesur, posted this afternoon]
  • "The “Great March of Return” protests that Hamas and Gaza activists launched on March 30 saw their lowest turnout in three weeks and the smallest number of casualties in clashes with Israeli forces, with one Palestinian killed and 528 reported injured on Friday. Israeli authorities have been steadfast and on message about the protesters being a cover for violent action, while Hamas and the local activists have attempted to keep up the momentum. The proportion of those injured by live fire has declined by half, indicating a major reduction not only in the size of the protests but the level of violence along the border... [On Friday] the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza published a list of casualties from the past two weeks, stating that 3,078 Palestinians had been injured, including 1,236 from live ammunition. It claimed four people had lost legs. Of those injured 445 were under 18 and 152 were women. Thirty had been killed. It also said 30 paramedics had been injured and 14 journalists... ["Three weeks: How Gaza's mass protests are failing to make an impact", Seth Franzman in Jerusalem Post, April 14, 2018]
It's unlikely the Hamas organizers of this campaign are going to allow it to dwindle into insignificance. Unfortunately since the tools at their disposal tend to be limited to focusing on violence and generating human losses on their side (on our side too but that's less in their control), there's no basis for breathing more easily at this point.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

08-Apr-18: In Ma'ale Adumim's industrial zone, a thwarted Arab-on-Israeli stabbing this afternoon

Ma'ale Adumim city skyline [Image Source: Flash90]
It's a glorious Sunday afternoon here in Jerusalem, and as Israel emerges from a week of Passover pleasures, everyone's aware of the murderous atmosphere being cultivated by the terrorists of Hamas. Their focus is of course on the Gaza/Israel border. But the impact of the reports emanating from there about dead and injured is felt in the wider Palestinian Arab sphere.

Reports emerged around 1:15 pm today of an Arab-on-Israeli attack on the edge of Ma'ale Adumim, a city just east of Jerusalem. The Times of Israel report says a Palestinian Arab male was stopped in the course of trying to stab a man at a gas station near Mishur Adumim, the thriving industrial section of the city which provides very well-paid employment for Palestinian Arabs ("I can bring a million people who want to work here, boasted Ahmed Nasser, taking a break from his job..." via Haaretz), making it a prize target for terrorists.

Today's suspected attacker was shot by an armed civilian bystander.
According to police, the suspect “had an object in his hand and tried to stab a man” who was at the gas station. An armed civilian opened fire at the suspect and “neutralized him,” the police said. The suspect’s condition was not immediately known. There were no Israeli injuries, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.
We won't post them here but there are plenty of eye-witness cell phone snapshots of the aftermath on the Hebrew-language Rotter news site.

Ynet's report says
A suspected attack arrived at the gas station near Mishor Adumim early Sunday afternoon and attempted to stab an Israeli man with a screwdriver, police said. A civilian passing by with his car noticed the altercation, opened fire at the suspect and neutralized him. The suspected attacker, who is around 21 years old, was rushed to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem's Mount Scopus in serious condition. Three people were treated from [sic] shock.
The latest reports we are seeing are that the alleged attacker is alive with life-threatening injuries after taking a shot in the head. A JTA report [here] says he's 31, and not as Ynet said. And this JNS report says his condition was described at Hadassah hospital as "critical", though the same report's headline says he is dead. That appears to be a mistake.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

04-Apr-18: Here's (one view of) what the Palestinian Arabs want

From the survey result's home page
Palestinian Arab polls of Palestinian Arab opinion can be valuable tools for understanding what they think at any given time. And no less importantly, how accurate the assessments of what they want for the future are.

And to be blunt about this, they're invariably more valuable by far than media guesses about what the Palestinian Arabs think and want.

Claims are made freely and often about Palestinian Arab aspirations. Very often, though, the data tell a story that's at total variance from what's being claimed about them.

That's why we have chosen from time to time to publicize here the results of opinion polls conducted by relatively respected organizations within Palestinian Arab society.

Most of our previous poll-centered posts have been based on the published data of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), whose head is Dr. Khalil Shikaki. They include:
In the wake of the first in a series of violent clashes on Israel's Gaza border this past Friday and in the days that followed, now seems a good time to revisit what they think (though we don't have Shikaki data to base ourselves on) and how closely it approximates what those who claim to speak for them are saying.

To set the stage, here's one view - a robustly Palestinian Arab view - of what the brazenly-mislabeled "March of Return" is:
Palestinians have geared up to mobilize en masse in what has been dubbed as Great March of Return.... a remarkably fresh approach in resistance to Israel’s seven decades of colonialism... Starting Friday 30th March 2018, thousands upon thousands head towards homes and lands from which they were forcibly expelled. Victims of evictions and ethnic cleansing whose losses have never been admitted by Israel despite being acknowledged by the United Nations, have every right under International Law to reclaim the theft of their land. Though month of March each year since 1976 has been commemorated as Land Day, this year sees it expanded in a very creative way. The popular sentiment shared amongst Palestinians in the diaspora as indeed within the suffocating occupied territories is “Returning to our stolen lands and homes is legal under International Law and UN resolutions”. The Great March of Return is thus an affirmation of this inalienable right guaranteed by a substantial number of international conventions... The Great March of Return has the support of all the Palestinian factions – Hamas, Fatah, the PFLP and Islamic Jihad. Expected to continue until 15 May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, it’s demands will hopefully resonate across all corners of the world: Right of Return to their pre-1948 homes! ["Great March of Return: A New Defiance Campaign", Iqbal Jassat in Palestine Chronicle, March 31, 2018]
How much support do the so-called "Palestinian factions" have among Palestinian Arabs? A fresh study from An-Najah National University Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies (Poll No. 56) published on March 27, 2018 gives some indications.

(Some technical background: Based on a sample of 1,361 people aged 18 and up and with the right to vote. 861 live in the West Bank, 500 in the Gaza Strip. The sample was drawn randomly. Margin of error about ±3%.)

And a word about elections:
  • Palestinian Arab presidential elections are not frequent occurrences. The first were in 1996; Arafat won and died in 2004. The second presidential elections took place on January 9, 2005. Mahmoud Abbas won and was elected to a four year term that has continued ever since. 
  • Palestinian Arab parliamentary elections were held a year later, in January 2006. Hamas surprisingly defeated the long-dominant Fatah, ending up with 76 seats out of 132. Chaos ensued, followed, in June 2007, by the eruption of open fighting between the armed forces of Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The winners of the blood-bath were Hamas who remain in control there until today. No parliamentary elections have happened in the past 12 years.
In terms of party alignments, the An-Najah poll ("Which of the following political affiliations do you support?") produces this breakdown (all the tables below are ours but the data on which they are based are those of the An-Najah report we are quoting):


Fatah has three times the support that Hamas has, even in Gaza. In the West Bank where the Mahmoud Abbas Fatah government is part of the day-to-day reality, it's considerably less popular than the "none of the above" alternative.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist, attracts a mere 10% support - worth keeping in mind whenever its commissars make belligerent policy speeches using the word "we". 

It would have been good if this poll had examined where, in party political terms, there is greater and lesser support for compromise, peace, a two-state solution. It doesn't offer data on that. In response to this question: "Do you support or reject the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders as a final solution for the Palestinian cause?", the results are


Clearly a strong vote of rejection for the two-state concept - meaning a Palestinian Arab state living beside an Israel that is confined to its 1967 borders. A related question asks how they feel about a Palestinian Arab state on those 1967 lines but with "some land exchange". The 1967 lines are in reality the 1949 armistice lines and not an agreed border at all. That hasn't stopped some peace-makers suggesting that those 1949 lines be modestly adjusted to reflect demographic and other changes in the seven decades since the armistice. On that version of the question, the Palestinian Arab rejection is even stronger in both the West Bank and Gaza - about 71% reject it.

Another version of a peace solution that keeps on being discussed in some especially optimistic quarters is the so-called binational state - both Israelis and Arabs living together in a single political entity in the midst of sharing, co-operation and just getting along together. Palestinian Arab opinion doesn't like that very much either. In answer to the question ("Do you support or reject the creation of a binational state for both Arabs and Jews as a final solution for the Palestinian cause?") they practically shout their rejection:


So given the lack of appeal of the major peace concepts that have dominated discussions for many years, how do the Palestinian Arabs now feel about violence as a way forward?

In answer to the question "Do you support or reject the rise of an armed intifada in the Palestinian territories?", they said last month


There's much more opposition in the West Bank, it seems, to an armed intifada against the Israelis than there is among Gazans. But even in Gaza, the rejection number is larger than the support - though not by much.

Asked whether the current circumstances - political, security and economic - make them feel compelled (their word) to "emigrate abroad" (with no indication of to where), they responded


Gazans are more than twice as inclined as West Bankers to feel compelled to emigrate. Coupled with how low their support for the Islamists who rule every element of their lives is, a picture of a deeply disconnected population emerges.

Two additional data points worth noting from Poll Number 56: 
  • There was an assassination attempt on the life of the PA prime minister Rami Hamdallah on March 13, 2018 as his motorcade crossed from Israel into the Gaza Strip. He escaped unhurt but the PA made clear it held Hamas responsible. It stopped short of directly accusing the Islamist rivals. The An-Najah poll asked respondents who they believed was behind the attack. 17.2% said it was Hamas. 8.7% said Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas' party faction. 24.9% thought it was one of the smaller Palestinian Arab factions, but by far the largest vote was (not so surprisingly) that the Israelis did it: 32.2%. Outside the echo chamber of the Palestinian Arab world, there doesn't seem to be much support for blaming Israel.
  • There is massive Palestinian Arab support for the view that the Americans can no longer be trusted as "an impartial peace broker between Israel and the Palestinians" in the wake of Trump's stated recognition that Jerusalem, after 70 years of being the modern state of Israel's capital, is indeed its capital. The rejection rate of the Americans, among Palestinian Arab respondents, is no less than 93.5% - practically a unanimous verdict.
Do these data provide a basis for optimism about anything? Not really. But that's not really the question. As we noted in our report on one of the previous (December 2016) Shikaki polls:
There's not much here that's uplifting or forward-looking. But that's how it is with public opinion polls. You can ignore them, you can be angered by them, you can adopt them for the purpose of crafting new strategies. What you can't do is deny their meaning just because you find the conclusions unpalatable.

04-Apr-18: In the war against the Gazan terrorists, the sea and "fisherman" have new significance

Israeli security video of naval forces seizing the attack ship

Think for a moment of all the news reports over the years of honest, hard-working, innocent-as-hell Gazan Palestinian Arab fishermen arrested for no reason whatsoever by mean Israeli naval forces.

The IDF and Israel's security establishment in general devotes massive resources to field intelligence. Israel's critics tend to relate to that sort of claim with cynicism, just because. That will probably continue today but for Israelis today brings some very disturbing news that, thankfully, includes something a positive outcome.

A Gazan Palestinian Arab plot to attack an Israeli naval vessel by missile, to then seize the survivors and do bad things to them or with them, was revealed today. It has ended well, at least so far. Here's how one report ["Shin Bet, IDF thwart Islamic Jihad attack on navy boats off Gaza coast", Times of Israel, April 4, 2018] tells it.
Security forces arrested a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group off the Gaza coast suspected of planning to sink an Israeli naval patrol boat and kidnap any survivors last month, Israel revealed on Wednesday. The plan was to use three boats to lure in a navy ship, fire a missile at it and then seize the wounded and slain soldiers, according to a joint statement by the Shin Bet security service and Israel Defense Forces. This plot was foiled on the night of March 12, when the navy’s 916th Patrol Squadron stopped a Palestinian boat that had left the designated Gaza fishing zone.
The video clip embedded above shows the nighttime seizure with well-armed IDF naval special forces boarding the fishing boat and arresting the 10 on board. The boat was impounded in Ashdod's sea-port.

It's likely that more information will emerge in days to come:
The crew was brought into Israeli custody for questioning, including Amin Saadi Muhammad Jumma’a, 24, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad who told interrogators that he had received instructions from his commanders to prepare to carry out the attack on Israeli Navy ships... Jumma’a, a resident of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, told interrogators that the plan was for one boat to act as a diversion by leaving the fishing zone so that a navy ship would approach it...  “A second boat would attack the ship, firing a Kornet (anti-tank) missile at it, with the intention of causing injury and death to the soldiers on board,” the statement said. A third boat would then arrive on the scene and take the wounded soldiers hostage and steal the bodies of those killed, the security forces said.
Jumma’a (some reports spell his name as Juma) was indicted in a Beer Sheba court today (Wednesday) on multiple charges including planning to conduct a terror attack, acquiring weapons and belonging to a terrorist organization. The charge sheet says he was recruited into Islamic Jihad in 2016 and a year later agreed - after being promised $5,000 - to conduct the attack.

Of the ten men arrested, seven were released after interrogation by the Shin Bet. Two others are believed to be part of the plot and were not freed. The tenth is Jumma'a who is not going anywhere for now.

Over at Haaretz ["Israel Indicts Gaza Resident for Plot to Attack Navy Vessel and Abduct Troops", today] they say that
Intelligence services believe the plot reflects a desire by terrorist organizations in Gaza to shift their attention to sea in light of Israel's successes against the threat of underground tunnels. The military has deployed a number of methods meant to counteract this growing threat, and is preparing for the possibility that these groups may attempt to target Israel's offshore gas fields
In an Associated Press interview with a spokesperson for Islamic Jihad, Daoud Shehab, he "had no information about the Israeli announcement" but offered the not-so-startling insight that PIJ terrorists are involved in "open confrontation" with Israel:
"It's also our right to look for suitable ways to force Israel to release Palestinian prisoners," he added.
And Israel's right to do everything necessary to thwart them.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

03-Apr-18: On Israel's Gaza border, more clashes today and a death

Today's Gazan attackers approach the border fence
[Video grab from the IDF surveillance video clip mentioned in the post]
There's no reason to expect the provocative efforts undertaken by Hamas and the consequent seriously raised tensions on the Gaza Strip's border with Israel to abate in the foreseeable future. The widespread criticism of Israel that erupted after 16 Palestinian Arabs were killed while rioting there this past weekend amount to the fulfillment of a dream for the Islamist terrorist organization. Their plan, by and large, is working. It's being marketed as “Return Marches” and set to continue, says Hamas, weekly into May.

No major surprise then that violent riots occurred throughout today (Tuesday) in four locations along the Gaza Strip barrier.

IDF forces used crowd dispersal measures and fired at suspects who attempted to breach the perimeter fence.The IDF says its soldiers today (Tuesday) used live fire against a group of Palestinian Arabs who succeeded in getting through the security fence. According to Times of Israel, one of the men in the group was shot dead:
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry identified the dead man as 25-year-old Ahmed Arafa, saying he was shot in the chest during clashes east of Bureij in central Gaza. The military wing of the DFLP terrorist group identified him as a member.
From Wikipedia:
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) (Arabic: 'الجبهة الديموقراطية لتحرير فلسطين', transliterated Al-Jabha al-Dimuqratiya Li-Tahrir Filastin) is a Palestinian Marxist–Leninist, secular political and militant organization. It is also frequently referred to as the Democratic Front, or al-Jabha al-Dimuqratiyah (الجبهة الديموقراطية). It is a member organization of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The group maintains a para-military wing called the National Resistance Brigades. Although the National Resistance Brigades have fighters based in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, these fighters have been engaged in relatively few military operations since the Second Intifada. The National Resistance Brigades continue to take part in training exercises at paramilitary camps near Rafah and Khan Yunis. One of the attacks for which the DFLP is best known is the 1974 Ma'alot massacre in which 25 schoolchildren and teachers were killed... The DFLP is believed to receive limited financial and military aid from Syria, where it is active in the Palestinian refugee camps. The DFLP's leader, Nayif Hawatmeh lives in Syria.
A brief surveillance video clip of about 25 seconds [click here to view], provided by the army to selected news media today, shows, according to Times of Israel
a person smashing the fence with what appears to be a metal pipe. He is joined by four others, two of which go through a hole in the fence. Then it appears warning shots were fired. The two men run back into Gaza, and once they are through the fence the video cuts out. It was unclear when Arafa was shot. According to the Israel Defense Forces, dozens of Palestinians took part [today] in “violent riots in four locations along the Gaza Strip.” The army said it used mostly less-lethal riot dispersal measures against the demonstrators — tear gas and rubber bullets — but used live rounds against the people who sabotaged the fence. “The IDF will not allow security infrastructure and the fence, which protects Israeli citizens to be damaged, and we will take action against terrorists who are involved,” the army said in a statement. “We again warn against approaching the fence,” the IDF added.
Media channels traditionally hostile to Israel, like Agence France Press (AFP) are blandly reporting tonight that
A Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces on the Gaza border Tuesday, the health ministry in the strip said, as tensions remained days after 17 people were killed when a mass demonstration led to clashes. The ministry identified the dead man as 25-year-old Ahmad Arafa, saying he was shot in the chest during clashes east of Bureij in central Gaza. The Israeli army said it was looking into the incident and could not immediately comment. It was the first death since at least 17 Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops Friday when a protest by tens of thousands of people resulted in clashes... Israel has defended its soldiers' actions on Friday, saying they opened fire only when necessary against those throwing stones and firebombs or rolling tires at soldiers. It said there were attempts to damage the fence and infiltrate Israel, while alleging there was also an attempted gun attack against soldiers along the border. Palestinians say protesters were fired on while posing no threat to soldiers.
Our guess is the surveillance video clip showing today's penetration of the fence and infiltration from Gaza into Israel will not influence the outlook of the AFP editors.

As far as we know, AFP has no reporters stationed in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. In choosing to quote the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry as its source, it keeps its news consumers in the dark about its highly-compromised nature as a source of objective reporting.

We also noticed the Turkish Anadolu Agency described today's dead attacker this way:
“Ahmed Omar Arafa, 25, was martyred after being shot in the chest by Israeli soldiers near the eastern border of the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip,” Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement.
Israel's friends had better get used to the new normal. For the next few weeks, the incompetent Hamas regime, unable to otherwise address the mounting fury of its subjects over a failed economy and a collapsed infrastructure, will be feeding news agencies with a steady stream of news fodder based on harmless, peaceful, unarmed protestors being mercilessly gunned-down without any good reason by mean Zionists. Hold tight.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

29-Mar-18: High alert for yet more uninvited visitors - this time in Beer Sheva

Police check driver identities in Beer Sheva today [Image Source]
Israel Police announced earlier today (Thursday) the existence of a potential “security incident” in Beer Sheva, as they sent in police reinforcements, according to a Ynet flash around 2:30 this afternoon.

They set up roadblocks and patrolled the city from above by helicopter. Times of Israel said very shortly afterwards that a suspected would-be terrorist and his alleged accomplice are in custody following a manhunt in the area, but there is no confirmation from the police as we write this (3:30 pm).

The police have not yet specified the nature of the threat posed by the suspects.

This is playing out after the spate of infiltrations about which we reported just a few hours ago ["29-Mar-18: Unwanted visitors on Israel's Gaza border"] and just before a major security-centered event that Hamas is orchestrating on the border fence separating the Gaza Strip which it occupies and controls tightly, and Israel.

29-Mar-18: Taylor Force Becomes Law

Abbas getting hot under the collar in Ramallah, January 2018 [Image Source]
There's a spectrum of views on how well the new US law, just enacted, is going to serve the purpose for which it was drafted. Here's one, reprinted in full, that raises some points we think need emphasizing.
Taylor Force Becomes Law 
Editorial of The New York Sun | March 23, 2018
The passage into law today of the Taylor Force Act represents a particle of bipartisan good news amid an omnibus spending bill that is, as President Trump marked today, riddled with pork. It represents a first step toward calling the Palestinian authorities to account for paying their people to kill Jews — and others — and using American money to do so.
Sad to say, though, the memory of the magnificent American for whom this law is named deserves better than what the Congress gave him today. Taylor Force was a West Point graduate who became an officer of field artillery (its motto is “First to Fire”). Out of the Army, he was a graduate student when, at 29, he was stabbed to death by an Arab terrorist in Israel.
Early versions of the Taylor Force Act would have brought to a halt nearly all American funding of the Palestinian Arabs if the Palestinian authority continued to underwrite terrorist families. Cutting off American funds, which are fungible, could have dealt a body blow to a Palestinian Arab regime that for years has been playing a cynical and lucrative double game.
And for a lot of money. Our government alone has been paying the Palestinian Arabs on the order of $400 million a year. The Jewish News Syndicate cites a report that the outlays for 2017 would come in at $363 million. JNS quotes Prime Minister Netanyahu as reckoning that the Palestinian Authority parlays something like $353 million a year to terrorists and their families.
By the time the Senate got done with the Taylor Force Act, though, the potential penalties for the Palestinians could cost them as little as a third of the U.S. funds. The penalty is bupkis. Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America tells us he is shocked by the final measure, even though it is getting praise from many other sources.
We share his reaction. What happened to the Taylor Force Act as it went through Congress reminds us of what happened to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which was gutted in the Senate. That deed was done at the last minute by Dianne Feinstein, through a waiver that allowed the President to hold off on moving the embassy for national security exigencies.
So Mrs. Feinstein — with the connivance of Charles Schumer — was able to delay the move of the American embassy for a generation. Is it going to take that long before the Palestinian Arab leadership feels the full force of the Taylor Force Act? It will be an early test of President Trump and his new leadership at the State Department and National Security Council.
We have written often about the Palestinian Authority's Rewards for Terror scheme (known also as Pay-to-Slay), and will be doing so again in the coming days now that the newly announced PA budget drops the camouflage and admits what it has concealed for years. Whenever Arab-on-Israeli terror attacks happen, it's important to recall that  the perpetrators become entitled to substantial payments from the PA. As we noted at the time, the relatives of the Palestinian Arab stabber who killed an American visitor to Tel Aviv, Taylor Force, in 2016 now receive monthly payments equal to several times the average Palestinian wage.

29-Mar-18: Unwanted visitors on Israel's Gaza border

Tuesday's Gazan intruders minus their grenades and knives [Image Source]
As Israel approaches one of the traditionally relaxed annual periods in a locale that's not so notably relaxed, security events in the south are causing rising concern.

Times of Israel reports this morning that two Gazan Palestinian Arabs were intercepted yesterday (Wednesday) immediately after getting through the border fence and despite the heightened security alert that is currently in effect there. They were equipped with a knife and box cutters, and are now "being questioned" as the standard media release formula states it.

The thing is, this was the fourth breach of the security fence around Gaza in a week. What's going on?

Tomorrow, Friday, the eve of Passover and the day practically every Israeli has some Passover-related task to take care of at home or in the workplace ahead of Friday night's family-oriented seder gatherings, the Hamas regime plans - it has been saying for some weeks - to conduct "protests" along the boundary with Israel.

They say this is going to include "masses" of Gazans taking part. Their media advisers have coined the name of this dangerous exercise “March of Return” and it is planned to go on for six weeks until May 15, the day the Palestinian Arabs have come to call Nakba, catastrophe. This "march" will include the constructing of a tent city on the Gazan side of the border and the participation of "tens of thousands of Gaza residents", which there's little doubt Hamas - which rules the Gazans with an iron fist, can arrange.

But have no fear. They're giving assurances that this is going to be a “peaceful protest”:
A member of the Hamas Political Bureau stressed on Tuesday that the proposed “Great March of Return” is intended to be a peaceful activity. Dr Khalil Al-Hayya also warned the Israeli occupation authorities against taking any aggressive steps against the march or those who take part. According to Al-Hayya, this will include Palestinian men, women and children. The return to occupied Palestinian lands is the legitimate and inalienable right of every individual Palestinian refugee, the spokesman pointed out... “Our right to Palestinian land is inalienable and we will not concede it. We are insistent upon our right to return and our right to establish our independent state.” [Middle East Monitor, March 27, 2018]
The background is dire: Gaza's unemployment rate is extremely high with economic activity in a dramatically low state. Long-standing problems with their water, sewerage and electricity are not improving despite multinational efforts and offers of huge sums of capital from Hamas' oil-rich friends; they are in fact worsening. In short, life under Hamas, is a nightmare. Which is evidently just what Hamas intends.

Meanwhile here's what the past few days saw:
  • Wednesday, a sole unarmed man crossed from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel near the community of Zikim and was promptly taken into custody. A few hours before that, two Palestinian Arabs were spotted near the discontinued Karni crossing trying to set fire to army engineering equipment close to the security fence [Jerusalem Post].
  • Tuesday, three Gazans, all armed with grenades and knives, not only got into Israel but managed to walk more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) unhindered during several hours before being arrested just outside the IDF's Tze'elim army base. Making this so much worse, as Times of Israel reports it, signs of the infiltration were detected only hours after it had happened. And though no injuries or damage resulted, the defense minister Avigdor Liberman called for the incident to get the full investigation treatment. The infiltrators were located and arrested about 90 minutes after those first signs of intrusion were detected [Ynet].
  • Saturday, four Palestinian Arab men wearing masks and carrying bottles filled with flammable material [Haaretz] managed to cut their way through the security fence from southern Gaza and ran into Israel near Kibbutz Kissufim (population about 245) where, as a well-publicized Hamas video shows, they tried (like Wednesday's attempted assault) to set fire to heavy engineering equipment that was there because of the barrier construction work now underway (no Israelis were on the scene at that hour. The construction is to prevent tunneling by the Gazan terrorists into Israel but it appears they can get in anyway using standard equipment i.e. cutters and their legs.
As Times of Israel reports, the military are taking pains to assure Israelis that all is essentially under control:
Israel has prepared for the protests by bolstering troop deployments in the border area, including the deployment of more than a hundred snipers to deal anticipated mass attempts to go through the fence, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said. “If the Palestinians think they will organize a march and it will pass the [border] fence and they will march into our territory, they’re wrong,” Eisenkot told the Israel Hayom daily... “A big portion of the army will be invested there,” Eisenkot told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily... “If there will be a danger to lives, we will authorize live fire,” he declared. “The orders are to use a lot of force.”
But not every use of force involves fire-power. As Khaled Abu Toameh, writing for Times of Israel last night reports:
Israel has warned owners of bus companies in the Gaza Strip not to ferry Palestinians to mass demonstrations that Hamas and other Palestinian groups are planning near the border with Israel on Friday. Hamas said on Wednesday that several owners of bus companies had received the phone calls in the past few days warning them not to assist in the organization of the protests. The terror group added that Israeli security officers had threatened to take punitive measures against the owners and their companies, including banning them from operating at border crossings with Israel...
What's certain in the wake of all this Hamas grandstanding and provocation is that at tens of thousands of Israeli homes on Friday night, the traditional retelling of the exodus narrative and the pleasures of the once-a-year seder meal will be conducted with empty chairs at the table as ordinary Israelis pay the price of constant vigilance.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

18-Mar-18: Near Lions Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, an Israeli is stabbed by an Arab attacker

Image Source: Reuters
The Palestinian Arab days of rage continue to exert their hideous influence.

There has been a late-Sunday-afternoon stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City near the ancient and famous Lions Gate. Times of Israel's report says a terrorist attacker stabbed and critically injured an Israeli on Hagai Street in Jerusalem’s Old City Muslim Quarter. He was quickly shot dead at the scene by an Israel Police officer.

The victim is said to be in “very serious” condition with multiple stab wounds to the upper body. He is about 30 years old. He was rushed from the scene of the attack to the trauma center of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment.

What we know about the stabber is that he was 28 years-old and from the village of Aqraba, near Nablus, known in Hebrew as Shechem. His name is given as Abd al-Rahman Bani Fadel. It's a common Arab surname in the Nablus area.

Arab-on-Israeli attacks in the vicinity of Lions Gate are far from unknown. We have reported on these in the past three years (and there may have been more): 13-May-17: In Jerusalem's Old City, a Jordanian stabs an Israeli and the Jordanians are outraged (so are we, for different reasons)13-Mar-17: Jerusalem and the (alleged) knife-men03-Oct-15: Arab violence escalates in Jerusalem: Multiple stabbings in Old City tonight.

The Arab view, as exemplified by this quote from a Naharnet news report, is that "tensions" are high
after Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas called for a day of rage on Friday to commemorate 100 days since U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Yes, tensions. Tell that to the family of the young Israeli fighting for his life this evening.

Image Source
UPDATE Monday morning, March 19, 2018 at 12:15 am: We're sorry to have to report that the Israeli victim of today's stabbing attack has died. Israel National News says he is Adiel Kolman, a resident of Kochav Hashahar, originally from the community of Keshet in the Golan Heights - married and the father of four children.

The Jerusalem Post says
Kolman, 32, a father of four, was killed in a terror attack on Sunday evening as he left his job at the City of David museum in the Old City and headed in the direction of Jerusalem’s light rail. It was a route he took every day to return to his home in the Kokhav HaShahar settlement, just outside of the capital. A terrorist stabbed him in the upper part of his body as he neared the area of the Lion’s Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. He was rushed to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in serious condition and died just before midnight. Kolman grew up in Moshav Keshet in the Golan Heights. He leaves behind children in third and second grade as well as in kindergarten and day care. His wife, Ayelet, is a social worker.

18-Mar-18: Unanswered questions about terrorists hiding in plain sight

Ahmad Hassan [Image Source]
This past Friday in London, a criminal court convicted a young man, just 18, of attempted murder.

This arose from his planting a bomb on a busy London Underground train carriage whose detonation at Parsons Green station injured 51 people. His name is Ahmed Hassan. The judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, is reported to have told Hassan that his conviction by the jury was on the basis of "overwhelming evidence". He is going to be sentenced this week.

The Guardian's report of the trial's outcome sets the tone for a somewhat familiar scenario:
Small, shy and undoubtedly damaged, Ahmed Hassan attracted no end of kindness and sympathy when he arrived in Britain in the back of a cross-Channel lorry in October 2015, saying he was Iraqi and 16 years old... ["'A duty to hate Britain': the anger of tube bomber Ahmed Hassan", March 16, 2018]
From the brief reports, it seems life in England was not so terrible for the refugee. He won an Amazon voucher for becoming "student of the year"; he then used it buy one of the key chemicals for the explosive device. Just before executing his plan, he texted to a woman described in reports as his college mentor: "It's almost better to be back in Iraq. It's better to die because you have heaven."

Another clue to the personality throbbing inside the young jihadist is (as ITV nooted that he "got off the train one stop before the bomb partially exploded on the floor of the carriage" and "fled London with more than £2,000 in cash but was picked up by police at the Port of Dover the next day."

Also that he filled the bomb with shrapnel, including five knives, two screwdrivers, and nails and screws. This is what you do when you want to maximize carnage and agony, as the man who made the bomb that destroyed the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria in 2001 did.

Some details from ITV's report:
  • The court was told Hassan told Home Office officials he was trained by Islamic State "to kill" after he arrived in Britain in the back of a lorry in 2015. He was taken in by foster parents Penny and Ron Jones MBE, and studied media and photography at Brooklands College in Weybridge.
  • The Iraqi-born teenager is said to have prepared the attack while his foster parents were away on holiday between September 1 and September 8 last year... The Old Bailey heard he wanted to cause "maximum" carnage to avenge the death of his father, who was blown up in Iraq more than 10 years before.
  • One woman, known only as Miss S, giving evidence from behind a screen said she had been horribly scarred and burnt. Through tears she described hearing the bomb, seeing a giant flame and then realising her body and clothes were burning.
  • Another victim, Ann Stuart told jurors: "What I saw was this flash and whoosh that came up from my side. My hair was smoking. I patted myself out and got off the train and this man picked me up and held me."
  • Some 23 passengers suffered burns, with some describing their hair catching fire and their clothes melting in the blast. Another 28 suffered cracked ribs and other crush injuries in the stampede to get out of the platform via a narrow stairway.
  • Commander Dean Haydon, head of Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command, said: "I describe Hassan as an intelligent and articulate individual that is devious and cunning in equal measures... On the one hand he was appearing to engage with the (Prevent) programme but he kept secret what he was planning and plotting. We describe him as a lone actor... It was only through good fortune that it only partially exploded. If it had, without a doubt we would have been dealing with many fatalities."
Here's how the UK's Security Minister at the Home Office, Ben Wallace, greeted Friday's verdict.
"I welcome the conviction of Hassan who sought to spread terror in this country and murder innocent people. This case is a bleak reminder of the devastating consequences of radicalisation... It is clear that there are some lessons to be learned in this particular case... However we should not allow this to undermine all the good work taking place across the country to stop terrorism and our work to help those who are legitimately in need. Ultimately, no one should be in doubt that those who bear responsibility for the atrocious attacks we have seen in the past year are the terrorists themselves."
The shrapnel
There is another way to look at this. It's well expressed in a leading article in today's Times of London. Some excerpts:
More than a century ago, in his book The Man Who Was Thursday, GK Chesterton introduced us to the idea of the terrorist hiding in plain sight... 
Ahmed Hassan, a teenage Iraqi asylum seeker, who in 2015 arrived in Britain illegally on a lorry going through the Channel tunnel, could hardly have done more to show he was serious about his terrorism... 
When it was discovered by staff at his sixth-form college that he seemed to be raising funds for Isis, he said it was his duty to hate Britain. He was referred to the government’s Prevent programme and its Channel project, which has the aim of mentoring young people and steering them away from radicalisation. It failed.
When he received a prize of an Amazon voucher for his studies at the college, he bought bomb-making equipment.
When he was placed with Ron and Penny Jones, foster parents appointed MBEs for their work, they were not told about his claims of Isis links or fears that he was being radicalised. But his behaviour did lead them to think he was suffering from a “mental deterioration”. They are now said to have stopped fostering.
There are so many things wrong with the Hassan case that it goes beyond what Ben Wallace, the security minister, has described as “some lessons to be learnt”. The collective failure of the security services, Surrey county council and other bodies could easily have resulted in a devastating loss of life... Many of those who were injured at the time are still affected. More questions need to be asked about Prevent, supposedly a deradicalisation programme.
Above all, why was Hassan here at all? At a time when this country has problems enough neutralising the danger from returning British Isis fighters, providing asylum to an Iraqi who claimed he had been trained to kill by Isis seems perverse in the extreme. His story, that he had been kidnapped and trained against his will, was hokum. He should have been put on the next plane out of Britain. Where terrorists are concerned we can never afford to be a soft touch. This time we were. ["Britain was a soft touch for this terrorist", The Sunday Times, March 18, 2018]
If these questions posed by Time of London's editorial people aren't asked in the right places, and the right places are not only in London or the UK, then it's a certainty that luck is going to run out at some point. The next seething, zealous, well-trained would-be mass-murderers are almost certainly located right now already inside the countries they lust to attack. It's insanity to ignore, in the name of political-correctness, the life-and-death dangers they respresent.

And if you're a senior politician doing the ignoring, that's irresponsible recklessness of a kind that has no expiation.