Thursday, October 27, 2016

27-Oct-16: Thwarted: Another Arab-on-Israeli terror plot in Jerusalem, and Hamas are again involved

File photo of the Jerusalem District Court building [Image Source]
Israelis pretty much take for granted that the country's always-alert security forces will be pro-active in thwarting Palestinian Arab terrorists before their plots can run their course. But it's of course not something anyone ought to take for granted.

Mahmoud Mussa Abbasi, reportedly a 25 year-old resident of one of the settlements and suburbs of East Jerusalem (according to Times of Israel, it's Ras al-Amoud), was indicted this morning in Jerusalem District Court on terrorism charges. Arrested three weeks ago (according to Jerusalem Post) he allegedly plotted a terrorist attack in the capital -  a shooting attack targeting security forces and civilians in Jerusalem, according to the Shin Bet.
The suspect had also allegedly tried to purchase weapons for such an attack. In addition, the Shin Bet investigations found that Abbasi has supported Hamas and was involved in several prior attacks in which Molotov cocktails and stones were hurled at Israeli security forces. Investigator also found that Abbasi had attempted to acquire knowledge on manufacturing pipe bombs, although he had not actually engaged in producing an explosive. ["Shin Bet thwarts suspected Jerusalem terror plot by Arab-Israeli man", Jerusalem Post, October 27, 2016]
Hamas was also involved in another recently-thwarted plot here in the capital: "11-Oct-16: Who will live and who will die: A Hamas plot is thwarted in Jerusalem".

Though the Jerusalem Post headline terms him an Arab-Israeli, we think that's unlikely given that he lives in East Jerusalem. There's no indication of anyone else being charged but experience suggests that sometimes accomplices are brought to court at a later stage in the investigation.

Israel National News adds that the prisoner is alleged to have been involved in
a number of terror-related offenses dating back to 2014. Abbasi is accused of taking part in violent disorders, as well as making and throwing firebombs during the Protective Edge counter-terror campaign in Gaza. From July 2015 until his arrest, he allegedly made a number of Facebook posts in praise of terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In 2016 he allegedly destroyed the hard disk of his employer's computer after the employer was arrested by security forces.
Prosecutors said
Abbasi voiced support for the suicide bomber who attacked the number 12 bus in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem last April and the shooters at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv who killed four people in June. “Abbasi’s arrest, and the results of his questioning, demonstrate once again the high level of threat from acts by lone attackers who are influenced by incitement on the web by terror organizations, and in particular Hamas, and who themselves incite to carry out attacks,” the Shin Bet said. ["East Jerusalem man charged with plotting shooting, backing Hamas", Times of Israel, October 27, 2016]
The shooter in a fatal Jerusalem terror attack less than three weeks ago ["09-Oct-16: In Jerusalem, first reports of Arab-on-Israeli shootings this morning"] was also connected to Hamas.

27-Oct-16: Who put those knives into the hands of these two little Palestinian Arab boys?

Children and their pure blood: It's a deeply offensive theme that runs strongly through the messages PA president Abbas delivers to his people. Why is no one other than advocates for Israel outraged by this? [Image Source]
The Times of Israel reported late last night (Wednesday) on fresh evidence, if any were needed, of how Palestinian Arab society appears to have hit bottom and continues to dig down:
Two Palestinian children carrying knives were detained outside a West Bank settlement, south of Jerusalem, on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces said. “A short while ago forces identified and apprehended two Palestinian children under the age of ten near the community of Migdal Oz,” the army said. “During the initial questioning the children admitted to have been sent, armed with knives, in order to carry out a terror attack.” The two were spotted near the security fence. IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner said the pair were just eight years old... ["Palestinian kids, 8, detained with knives outside settlement", Times of Israel, October 26, 2016]
Photos of the two knives seized from the children are published in this morning's news. We did a Google image search of that image a few minutes ago; it appears, not so surprisingly, that interest in those weapons of murder and the children from whom they were taken, is limited at this point to the Israeli media. The Palestinian Arab news channel Ma'an has nothing about it in English at this hour (it's 9:30 am), but their Arabic site does have a brief report here; while it offers no reflections, analysis or commentary on what armed 8 year olds stand for in the larger view of things, it does include IDF security cam footage of the two children making their way in the dark to the outskirts of Migdal Oz.

(Migdal Oz is a kibbutz of some 500 residents, one of the 22 communities that comprise Gush Etzionthe Etzion Bloc, located some 15 minutes drive south of the capital, Jerusalem.)

The stunning phenomenon of sub-teen children engaging in actual lethal attacks on Israelis, generally stabbing/slashing attacks, is not new. Nor is the sight of babies, toddlers and little children posing for photographs while equipped - presumably by their parents or guardians or teachers or commanding officers - with killing tools.

There is no way of avoiding the reality that large swathes of Palestinian Arab society are in the thrall of a passionate embrace of vicious bigotry, murderous savagery and explicit incitement of their own children and grandchildren to murder and to be killed.

Two outside actors deserve a special mention in this grotesquerie:
  • The central role of UNRWA, ostensibly an agency that exists to ameliorate the suffering of Arab refugees (Palestinian Arab refugees to be more precise) but in reality a cornerstone of the seven-decades-long Arab strategy to keep the Palestinian Arabs displaced, as miserable as possible and in the news - ought to be acknowledged at this point. By their own reckoning, they play a huge role in the education of Palestinian Arab children. They are certainly part of the problem and not of the solution.
  • Amnesty International's increasingly explicit identification with the practitioners of the Palestinian Arab brand of terror makes plain their abandonment of principle and betrayal of their supporters' values. As we have noted several times [most recently here: "20-Sep-16: Another Pal Arab boy with a knife died today - exactly as the PA intended him to"], there's no longer anything to expect from them.
There are more than 80 of our blog posts that have the tag "Weaponizing Children". This would be an excellent time to re-acquaint ourselves with the betrayal of, and the outrages perpetrated on, the children of Palestinian Arab society by those responsible for their well-being.

It's a reality that's difficult to deny or ignore. But plenty of reporters and their editors do

Here's an example that has gotten plenty of airing in Israel-friendly channels but much less by the mainstream news reporting industry. It depicts "moderate" Abbas last year speaking in a video [translated from Arabic by Palestinian Media Watch and featured in this post of ours: "13-Oct-15: A bloody day and the malevolence behind it"]:
"We bless you [referring to those carrying out Ribat, the pursuit of religious conflict and/or war to protect land claimed to be Islamic], we bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every martyr (shahid) will reach paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah. The Al-Aqsa [mosque] is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours, and they [the Israelis, the Jews] have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem." [PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, September 16, 2015]
Yes: Every drop of blood. Simple language. So simple, a child could understand it.

Now (as we wrote a year ago) if you were a callow teenage boy or girl of 13, 14, 15, and getting bombarded in the mosque and at school and on the street where you hang with your friends, always, always about Jerusalem and its sacred state - and then the president comes along and promises you paradise and a reward from Heaven, and a free pass to do whatever harm to the Jews that you can imagine, wouldn't your mother's largest kitchen knife be the very next thing you go looking for?

If any of Abbas adviser's are reading this, and want to deny the claim, they're invited to please send us written evidence of the PA president's calls to his people to stop their blood-lusting violence, their overt and cold-blooded weaponization of their society's children, and their hunting for defenceless, civilian Israelis at bus stops, tram stops and shopping precincts.

And for any Europeans reading this - congratulations! None of this could have happened without the tax money you pay to your governments who in turn send millions of Euros to Ramallah to enable Abbas and his henchmen to get away with murder.

Finally, with fresh thoughts in our minds of a pair of eight-year boys in the hands of police, and thinking back to an earlier blog post ["15-Jul-16: Abbas, who praises vehicle rammers to the sky, has just (yes) condemned the French savagery"], here's a reflection on the leader of the depraved clique that stands at the heart of these awful events, and on those who ought to be exposing this sickness:
Abbas is no moderate. He's not a moderate liar. He is not even a moderate kleptocrat. He formulates his views carefully and in odious ways that are frequently fig-leafed by a compliant media concerned that the man's true views and actions might accidentally get better known outside the fellowship of Pal Arab advocates. In fact, as we see it, the only thing more loathsome than this man's actions - and especially his incitement to murderous stabbings, to vehicle rammings, to shootings and their impact on the lives lived by ordinary people in this part of the world - is the stunning ignorance of reporters and their editors. With the journalistic equivalent of a straight face, they manage to publish transparent nonsense like this afternoon's Abbas "condemnation" without falling off their stools laughing or becoming paralytic with embarrassment.

Monday, October 24, 2016

24-Oct-16: Gazan rocket and tunnel attacks on Israelis: Monday update

The vast investment of manpower and cash being made by
Hamas in tunnels is often concealed by media reporting that emphasizes
how cows and goats are moved around via those tunnels. In reality, as this image
shows, they exist to serve an attack-focused terror strategy [Image Source: BBC]
The annual High Holydays season - including Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah - has just ended with sundown. The traditional greeting exchanged by observant Jews tonight is "Have a healthy winter!" We extend that to all our readers.

At least some of the challenges of the year ahead are not so hard to divine. From this morning (Monday) and Times of Israel:
Sirens warning of an impending rocket attack blared early Monday morning in communities in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council in southern Israel. The projectile reportedly landed inside the Gaza Strip. The Code Red alarm sounded just before 7:00 a.m. on Monday. The IDF said in a statement shortly thereafter that they didn’t identify any rocket impacts in Israeli territory...
Yet another Gazan "fell short" rocket (there's a long history of those, though the fact they fall onto Arab heads is rarely remarked) with no indication of the Arab-on-Arab damage that almost certainly followed in the tightly-packed Gaza Strip.

Reuters reported this morning ["Israeli aircraft strikes Gaza after militants fire rocket - military"] not on the rocket attack but on Israel firing back at Hamas targets:
No casualties were reported following the air strike, Gaza residents said. The rocket fired towards southern Israel set off sirens after tracking systems monitored the launch but it landed inside the Gaza Strip, a military statement said. Small jihadist cells in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Islamist group Hamas, sometimes launch rockets into Israel.
Hamas has observed a de facto ceasefire with Israel since 2014, when 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed in a war. But Israel says it holds the groups responsible for all rocket launches from the territory. [Reuters, today]
Responsibility for another Arab-on-Israeli rocket attack earlier this month ["05-Oct-16: A Gazan rocket crashes into a residential street in southern Israel"] was claimed by one of the non-Hamas terror organizations operating under the aegis of Hamas:
The Islamic State-affiliated Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis terrorist group took responsibility for that attack. In a statement, the group said the attack on Sderot was a response to Hamas arresting several members of the organization...  A Hamas official said [today] the group told Israel it would not allow other terrorist groups within Gaza to further inflame the situation, according to Israel Radio... [Times of Israel today]
The Turkish news agency Anadolu inadvertently insults its Hamas friends with a brief news report today that includes this whopper:
Though Hamas fighters rarely launch the rockets, Israel strikes their locations in response, arguing the Palestinian group is responsible for controlling other armed groups because it governs the coastal enclave. In July and August of 2014, Israel waged a weeks-long military offensive against the Gaza Strip with the ostensible aim of staunching rocket fire from the coastal enclave. [Anadolu Agency, today]
A pity the editors at Anadolu pretend to be unaware of the intense rocket war - which Amnesty (of all people) called "war crimes" - waged by Hamas against Israelis in 2014, and since:
Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian militant groups during last summer's conflict in Gaza amounted to war crimes, Amnesty International says. Militants displayed a "flagrant disregard" for the lives of civilians during the 50-day war, a report found. Six civilians in Israel and 13 Palestinians are believed to have been killed as a result of such attacks. Hamas, which dominates Gaza, said Amnesty's report contained many inaccuracies and false allegations... According to UN data, more than 4,800 rockets and 1,700 mortars were fired from Gaza towards Israel between 8 July and 26 August. Around 224 projectiles are believed to have struck Israeli residential areas... ["Amnesty: Hamas rocket attacks amounted to war crimes", BBC, March 26, 2015]
How seriously should Hamas declaring its opposition to inflame the situation (see that Times of Israel reprt above) be taken? Not very. Here's another dimension of current Hamas realities:
A Hamas operative died while working in a tunnel in the Gaza Strip Monday, the second death reported in recent days in the Palestinian terror group’s ranks. Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, announced that Ameir Jaber Abu Tuaima, 22, died during construction of a tunnel beneath the Palestinian coastal enclave. The announcement posted on the group’s website didn’t mention the cause of death, merely stating the Tuaima died in an “accident” near the southern city of Khan Younis. It wasn’t clear whether Tuaima died in a tunnel collapse, as another member of Hamas did on Saturday. The collapse on Saturday was the latest in a series of cave-ins to claim Palestinian lives. Over a dozen Palestinians, most of them reportedly members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have been killed in collapses since the beginning of the year. The official Palestinian news agency WAFA identified the man killed over the weekend as Anas Abu Lashin, 22, and said he was a member of Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. He was reportedly working in a tunnel in the al-Maghazi area in central Gaza when it caved in. The Brigades in a statement said Abu Lashin was killed “during preparation” of a tunnel, but did not provide further details. The [Hamas] Islamist terror movement which controls the coastal enclave has a network of tunnels in the territory, both for smuggling and attack purposes. It was not clear which type of tunnel Abu Lashin was killed in. ["Second Hamas man dies in tunnel ‘accident’ since Saturday", Times of Israel, October 24, 2016]
Ma'an News Agency says the Hamas person killed in the tunnel today was
...a member of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement... According to a statement released by the Brigades, one of their fighters died during a “mission” when the tunnel collapsed on him. The statement identified the fighter as Amir Jaber Abu Tuima from the town of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.
On a mission. Right.

Just two days ago, Yediot/Ynet published an interview with one of the IDF's key people in the war against those Gazan attack tunnels ["The colonel's tunnel war", Ynet, October 22, 2016]. Some points lifted from the article:
  • [Hamas are] "investing thousands of man hours into this. It's taking over a large portion of the Gaza Strip's economy, and pulling Gaza downward—literally. They've developed a high level of expertise in the field over the past 20 years. That takes almost every resource that has entered the strip from its residents: Wood, concrete, tools. It leads to high taxes on residents, who are already greatly suffering... We've been investing great resources to locate them, particularly over the past year. We are becoming smarter on the topic of tunnels every day, due to the friction. We manage to understand the idea, and identify the weakpoints and find solutions. That's the most I can say."
  • The State of Israel is investing NIS 2.5 billion in what's called the "Barrier project," meant to block Hamas tunnels. It includes an underground wall that goes dozens of meters deep into the earth, a smart fence along the border, and advanced means of detection. 
  • "The project is meant to be a pretty decisive answer, and will change the situation when it comes to all types of threats, especially the tunnel threat. It will ensure security at a very high level. This is a complex system, which handles threats above and below ground, watches the enemy's possible actions, and responds as needed. However, I cannot say that the barrier we're building will provide 100 percent protection, because there is no 100 percent."
All those news photos [Google] showing goats, cows, brides, fast-food and cigarettes being conveyed via those Hamas tunnels essentially conceal from news-consumer minds the reality that Hamas' tunnel empire is a capital-intensive and highly dangerous way of attacking Israelis. The people at World Vision probably know this better today than they did in the past.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

23-Oct-16: Vengeance is ours, say these Israeli Jews

A new cafe opens on Jerusalem's Hagai Street [Image Source]
A year ago, a murderous Arab-on-Israeli terrorist attack in Jerusalem's Old City took the lives of two young Jewish men:
The two died of their wounds shortly after being stabbed in Jerusalem’s Old City by a Palestinian terrorist. Banita’s wife was in serious condition and their two-year-old baby was lightly wounded. She was taken to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem and was undergoing surgery. The toddler was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment where he remained in stable condition. Lavi, a Jerusalem resident, leaves behind a wife and seven children. A rabbi at the Old City’s Ateret Cohanim yeshiva who lived nearby, he had rushed to the scene when he heard screaming in the street. ["2 killed in Jerusalem attack named as Nehemia Lavi, Aharon Banita", Times of Israel, October 3, 2015]
A year has gone by - twelve months filled with who-knows-what weighty challenges, unthinkable difficulties and corrosive, unfathomable, endless pain for the parents and families the two murdered Jews left behind.

In the conventional way of thinking about such matters, the minds of those irretrievably damaged family members are undoubtedly filled with thoughts of vengeance, of bloodshed and of evening the score.

That, at least, is how some ostensibly well-informed people view those of us who have been at the receiving end of Arab-on-Israeli savagery. As one prominent Jewish leader in the United States wrote publicly just a few weeks ago, in supporting a local fund-raising activity of Parents Circle Families Forum, a terror victim group about whose activities we have written critically several times, Israeli victims of Arab terror are entitled to
their natural right to revenge, after losing the most precious thing...
We wrote to that leader and told her that her comment was sharply at odds with what we have experienced:
We know many other Israelis who are bereaved through acts of hideous Arab-on-Israeli terror [and] don't believe we have met even one of whom we could say they are pursuing "their natural right to revenge"
The widow and orphaned children of Rabbi Nehemia Lavi Z"L
celebrated Purim earlier this year [Image Source: Ynet]
(Our correspondence with that prominent US Jewish community leader is the subject of an article we are preparing for publication now. That's another reason it's on our minds this morning.)

Is it possible to identify a pattern in the way Israeli victims - those who themselves survived acts of Arab-on-Israeli savagery and the families and loved ones of whose lives they were part - react? 

We think there is and have plenty of anecdotes to back that up. 

Here, from today's Israel National News, is an instance that describes how an informal group of Israeli Jewish youngsters, living in Jerusalem's Old City -
have dedicated a coffee kiosk for guards and security forces on duty in the location where, one year ago, an Arab terrorist murdered Rabbi Nehemia Lavi and Aharon Benita. The dedication was held last night... Every week, the youths held birthday celebrations for Border Police, and would pass out coffee, cakes, and other snacks to the security forces stationed around the Old City. Recently, the youths decided to intensify the initiative, and raised 50,000 shekels to renovate a store, located right at the scene of last year’s murders, that would become a coffee kiosk for the benefit of security forces. Michael Benita, the father of murder victim Aharon, came to the dedication event for the coffee kiosk, and expressed his excitement at the initiative: “The efforts of the youth are not something to be taken for granted, the establishment of this corner is not to be taken for granted. I am happy that, in this fashion, they are memorializing Rabbi Nehemia and Aharon.” Hadar Katzover, one of the youths of the Old City who contributed to the effort, shared her impressions: “We worked very hard on this. This is our way of continuing [the legacy of] Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, and this is our way of dealing with what happened. Where they cut life short, we will add goodness!". She invited "the entire public" to come to celebrations following the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah on Monday night at 9:00 PM on Hagai Street, adding: "Come and strengthen residents of the Old City.” The daughter of Rabbi Lavi cut the ceremonial initiation ribbon, while the brother of Aharon Benita fixed a mezuzah to the doorpost.["Where they cut life short, we will add goodness", Israel National News, October 23, 2016]
The sister of murdered Aaron Banita Z"L farewells him prior to the funeral
[Image Source]
Being really blunt about this, and speaking as parents of a child whose murder at the hands of Hamas terrorists led to the creation of a charity that does highly effective work, reading and writing about this Old City cafe and the acts of chesed on the part of those who created it makes us just about burst with pride and admiration.

Is this the only way to deal with life after everything is turned upside down by barbarism, bigotry and hatred?

No, there are certainly other ways. This way, for instance:
As the Jerusalem Post reports, the Palestinian Authority controlled by Mahmoud Abbas has just decided to honor Muhannad Halabi by naming a street after him. Halabi is the 19-year-old murderer of two Jews killed close to the Old City's Lion's Gate on October 3, 2015 in a stabbing and shooting "operation" that took the lives of Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi and Aharon Benita and seriously injured Benita’s wife, Adele, and their two-year-old son. The assailant was shot dead by police at the scene. Palestinian Media Watch reported several days ago that the Palestinian Bar Association has already grotesquely bestowed an honorary law degree on the deceased stabber/shooter/attacker. Now the municipality of Surda/Abu Qash, in the suburbs of Ramallah, will name a street for him "to emphasize the national role played by Palestinian municipalities." Can a society ever be rehabilitated from pathologies as deep and all-pervasive as theirs? ["28-Oct-15: The Pal Arab passion for knife attacks isn't just for social media: they sincerely mean to kill"]
The barbarians (and those who stand with them) have their ways and their values. And we have ours.

Friday, October 21, 2016

21-Oct-16: If a mass-casualty, Arab-on-Israeli plot is thwarted in time, is it still terrorism?

The targeted wedding hall, as it appears on its website
People who have experienced terrorism the hardest way - personally, like us - tend to pay more attention than most others to acts of terror that don't get all the way to fruition. Also: to the way the news reporting industry tends to focus serious attention on stories where there is actual human blood resulting from terror attacks and incomparably less attention where blood is absent and the terrorists are thwarted before their evil plans make the transition from potential to hideous reality.

Unless you follow the Israeli news-reporting media closely, it's unlikely you will know that a mass-murder plot, energetically pursued by a gang of Palestinian Arab terrorists, failed to happen recently. That's because - other than in parts of the Israeli news channels - there has been almost no news-report attention paid to it. Not enough blood.

Yesterday (Thursday), indictments were filed against several Palestinian Arabs in the same Be'er Sheva district court where the ongoing legal process against a senior World Vision manager is underway. (Other than the charge that terrorism was the goal in both prosecutions, the two seem to be unrelated.)

The allegations against the accused men are that they formed themselves into a terrorist ring, and planned to launch a mass-casualty attack at a strategic Israeli target, with an emphasis on the greatest possible number of Israeli casualties.

As has been the case with most terror assaults on Israelis in the past, the targets, while certainly strategic, were rarely military. Or guarded. Or connected to the government or to the police or to figures of authority. For instance, from a quick random selection:
All these, from a much longer list, are from the pre-1967 period. So the nonsense about Palestinian Arab terror being a response to "occupation" need not unduly trouble us.

In the years since, Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks have been directed at civilian aircraft and their passengers; airports; athletes at the Olympics; guests attending a Bar Mitzvah celebration; guests standing outside a Bar Mitzvah celebration; people strolling in city squares; school buses and the children on-board; pizzerias and their young customers; movie theatres and their patronsrestaurants and their diners; passenger buses and the commuters on board; a discotheque and the people lined up outside before coming inhouses of worship; schools and their school-children; hotels; students in a university cafeteria; bombs placed to exploded inside cafes, outside cafes and on and on.

The notion of strategic targets has a wide and varied meaning in the context of Arab-on-Israeli terror. Here's what Israel National News has reported on this latest chapter in the chronicles of that generations-long savagery.
It has been cleared for publication that a terror ring that had been planning a mass terror attack at an event hall in southern Israel has been arrested... Mahmoud Yusef Hassin Abu Taha of Khan Yunis in Gaza, who was arrested last month for trying to pass into Israel, revealed upon investigation that he stood at the head of an Islamic Jihad-affiliated organization in the Gaza Strip that had planned to carry out a number of attacks... Mahmoud had been drafted by Wael Sufyan Abu Taha, a senior operative of Islamic Jihad living in Gaza, who instructed Mahmoud to set up a terror infrastructure for carrying out attacks. Mahmoud didn’t hesitate, and drafted three more. One of them, a Gaza resident who had been residing in Israel illegally, was employed at the event hall for which the terror attack was planned... [F]or the purposes of preparing the attack, the terror group leader and employee of the hall undertook an initial check of the scene of the planned attack, according to which they were able to consolidate and ensure that a maximum number of people were murdered in the attack...
And the second part of the plan:
The ring had also been planning to capture and murder a soldier so as to use his body as a bargaining chip... Abu Taha planned an attack whereby a soldier would be captured and murdered - and his body used as a bargaining chip. To this end, he received thousands of shekels to rent an Israeli apartment - to where the soldier would be lured and murdered - to bury his body in the area and to transfer his belongings to Gaza - for the purposes of bargaining with Israel.
And this detail:
[T]hey planned to throw grenades into a crowd of dancers celebrating at the... events hall and to use weapons they would hide in trash cans ahead of the attack before fleeing the scene. They also considered detonating pipe bombs concealed under the dining tables.
Israel-based i24news names the other allegedly-terror-minded members of the busted cell:
55-year-old Shafiq Ahmad Hamad Abu Taha, who resided in Israeli illegally, 39-year-old Ahmed Tisir Abdulrahman Abu Taha from Gaza, who also resided in Israel illegally, and 40-year-old Hani Masood Nasir Abu Amra, originally from Deir al-Balah in Gaza, who lived in Israeli with temporary resident status through marriage by way of the "family reunification" law.
The four indicted Abu Taha terror-gang members make an appearance
in Beer Sheva District Court yesterday [Image Source]
Four members' names make clear they are related as members of the notorious Abu Taha clan. Some of the highlights of their activities are mentioned in this article ("Five Killed and Seven Injured in Armed Clan Clashes in Khan Yunis") from 2006.

A report in Haaretz says the one non-Abu Taha in the list, the one whose marriage gave him residency rights, has been living in Tel Sheva, a neighbourhood of Beer Sheva. (We wrote a personal note about it here.) That report goes on to make an astute observation that
The Shin Bet said the affair shows the way terrorist groups exploit entry permits into Israel, which are granted for humanitarian and economic reasons; as well as the danger of the terrorists' use of Palestinians who are residing in Israel illegally.
Things might have changed by the time you look, but when we searched Google for news stories that mention the men charged with terrorism yesterday, the only reports we could see [here] are Israeli or serve a specifically-Jewish readership. Knowing, as Israelis, that there are men, and surely women too, out there conspiring daily to attack our wedding halls and public and private places and to kill as many of us as they can, while the mainstream news-reporting industry politely turns away, is deeply disturbing.

You sometimes hear people dismiss outrage over jihadism and Islamist via the idiotic aphorism "One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter." A much more meaningful observation might be: "One person's terrorist is another's non-story." That reflects the threat much more accurately.

Apathy, distance and agenda-driven journalistic reporting mean that not enough people are willing to look and see what terror is, and what its practitioners seek to do. That enlarges the danger to all of us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

19-Oct-16: At Tapuah Junction today, a young woman, a knife and a familiar narrative

At the scene [Image Source]
The entire country is on vacation for the week of Sukkot (Tabernacles). But there's no vacation from the threat of terror attacks..

From Ynet today:
An attempted stabbing attack took place at Tapuah Junction in the West Bank on Wednesday afternoon. A female attacker approached the Border Police at the junction and attempted to stab them. They responded by firing, and the attacker was neutralized. No Border Police were injured.
Via social media sources, it appears the meaning of "the attacker was neutralized" is that the armed assailant, a young woman estimated to be 19 years old, was shot and killed at the scene. The attack took place around 12:50 pm this afternoon. Tapuah Junction [click] has seen many such attacks.

UPDATE 3:00 pm: Over at Ma'an News Agency, there's the customary spin-filled reporting, with "alleged" being the prevailing sentiment (the word appears five times in a short news report):
Israeli forces shot and killed a young Palestinian woman at the Zaatara military checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Wednesday after she allegedly attempted to stab Israeli border police. The slain woman was identified by local sources as 23-year-old Raheeq Shajee Birawi from the village of Asira al-Shamaliya north of Nablus city...
The Arabic version of the Ma'an report [here] calls the girl (named رحيق شجيع بيراوي in Arabic) a "martyr", as do Arabic-language Twitter messages [here]. Ma'an's English version does not. That's the usual approach that this European-funded news packager takes in reports of thwarted Arab-on-Israeli terror attacks.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

18-Oct-16: What do the Palestinian Arabs think and feel now?

A Palestinian Arab leader [Image Source]
There are people who try to understand the Palestinian Arabs by watching CNN or reading the New York Times. For us, it makes far more sense to reach for Palestinian Arab sources and and work from there.

Once again, we're looking in this post at what the Palestinian Arabs think, based on what they tell the pre-eminent Palestinian Arab opinion polling organization, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research [website] headed by a respected figure, Prof. Khalil Shikaki.

In a report published three weeks ago, PSR reported these findings (the wording is ours - the PSR's published summary, a 21-page document, is here):
  • Some trends that are mentioned in the last PSR report ninety days earlier (reported in our post: "15-Jun-16: What do the Palestinian Arabs think?") have gotten stronger. For instance, Palestinian Arab opinion is slightly less inclined to back armed action; the so-called French Initiative is slightly more popular; and the feeling that Mahmoud Abbas - the "moderate" head of the Palestinian Authority - should stop being president one way or another has gotten stronger. 
  • Ismail Haniyeh, the likely Hamas candidate for president, would defeat Abbas if an election had been held in September. 
  • But Marwan Barghouti, a convicted multiple murderer who, before being arrested, tried (in open court) and imprisoned by the Israelis more than a decade ago, was the commander of the Tanzim armed wing of Fatah, would defeat Haniyeh. All those lives murdered by him and his men speak loudly in Palestinian Arab society: in blunt terms, they're a political asset. And don't overlook that Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1984, thinks Jew-killing Barghouti ought to have been given this year's Nobel Peace Prize ["25-Jul-16: More on Tutu, Barghouti, terror, peace and prizes"]. We're fairly sure Barghouti is much more popular than Tutu among the Palestinian Arabs, but in politics, every source of electoral support counts.
  • Palestinian Arab support for what the poll calls "an armed intifada" is currently high, as it has been for a long time. Three months ago, it stood at 54%. In this latest poll, it's down all the way to 48% - which still means every second Palestinian Arab favours the continuation of a shooting/stabbing/ramming campaign against Israeli civilians. Think about that for a moment, and consider what it means for those of us who come into contact with them every day.
  • While it gets their support (55%), the Palestinian Arab public is "highly pessimistic" that the French Initiative has any chance of succeeding.  
  • A Palestinian Authority court recently ordered the postponement of local elections. But if they had been held in late September, the Pal Arab public was certain Hamas would win in the Gaza Strip. They expect Fatah - the party headed by Abbas - to take the West Bank. (Clarification: Presidential and parliamentary elections have not been held anywhere in the two Palestinian Arab statelets for more than a decade. They are not likely to happen soon. The elections in this note are for local representatives. Abbas' four year term as president which started on January 9, 2005, is likely to keep going for the rest of his life. The Fatah–Hamas Gaza Agreement of April 2014 provided for presidential and parliamentary elections by no later than October 2014. It's questionable whether many thought it was going to happen at that time and no such elections are currently in view.) 
  • This past summer saw numerous news reports of water shortages in Palestinian Arab cities and towns. Parts of the activist news reporting media knew whom to blame [for instance "Israel: Water as a tool to dominate Palestinians", Aljazeera, June 23, 2016], because there's rarely any downside in their circles to pointing the finger at Israel. The Israeli view is, not surprisingly, a little different ["Israel blames Palestinians for West Bank water shortage", Jerusalem Post, June 26, 2016]. So what are the Arab consumers of scarce water thinking and whom are they blaming? PSR found that 45% of Palestinian Arabs pin the responsibility for a shortage of water on Israel but a larger percentage (49%) says the Palestinian Arab side is to blame. (When did you last read or hear that in the mainstream news?
  • The Palestinian Arab public are concerned about what the PSR terms "internal security breakdowns" and connects those with three main factors, all of them Arab: The PA security services' "weak and inconsistent performance"; a "weak" justice system, including the courts; and "a surge in family and societal conflicts". It's an issue that is rarely discussed in the world's media.
  • There is very little faith among Palestinian Arabs in their own government. Indication: how many of them believe the PA suffers from corruption? 79%.
  • There is even less faith in the freedom of the news reporting media. On the Fatah/PA side, only 16% of respondents feel there is press freedom. In Gaza where Hamas rules the roost, faith in freedom of the local press is even lower: just 14%.
  • A two-state solution to the Palestinian Arab versus Israel conflict has the support of just 49% of Palestinian Arabs. A different poll conducted in August 2016 found that 59% of Israelis supported a two-state solution - and an additional 26% would agree if a peace agreement were to be made not only with the Palestinian Arabs but with the other hostile Arab states.
  • There's strong support (55%) among Palestinian Arabs for abandoning the Oslo Accords of 1993-1995. (That requires a separate post of its own.)
  • Concerning the Temple Mount, on which UNESCO is going to be voting again today, more than half of all Palestinian Arabs believe (and this is a direct quote from the PSR report) that of "the long-term aspirations or plans of the Israeli government for al Haram al Sharif in Jerusalem", the one considered most likely by most respondents by far is "Destroy Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock Mosques and build a synagogue in their place". That's the view of 52% of all Palestinian Arabs. And while it's a view that only 33% of Gazans hold, in the Abbas-controlled West Bank, 62% believe it to be true.
If all of this were not sufficiently dis-spiriting (and let's be frank - it really is and it mostly has been for at least five generations now), consider what the people on the far side of the fence want to happen after a State of Palestine has been established and after all (repeat: all) the "issues in dispute" (that's a quote) are resolved. 
Will there then be mutual recognition of Israel as the state of "the Jewish people" and Palestine as the state of "the Palestinian people" (those are the terms the poll report uses)?
The answer of 59% of West Bank Palestinian Arabs is "no". And that's what the Arabs of the Gaza Strip also say: 63% of them. 

We're for peaceful relations. And like most of the Israelis that we know, we're open to talk about compromise and to bargain in good faith. But what are people who hold views like ours to do once we internalize the Arab opinion reflected in that last statistic? It's also impossible to ignore the daily incitement to yet more hatred, bigotry, violence and conflict emanating from elite circles in the two Palestinian Arab statelets (the schools, the mosques, the political corridors) that certainly makes the situation steadily worse.


We're convinced that understanding the feelings, expectations and aspirations of the Palestinian Arabs is fundamental to comprehending them and to having a sense of what's ahead. If you agree, you might want to review these earlier posts:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

12-Oct-16: Fake passports and Iranians again

Welcome back to everyone who has been engaged in the rituals and introspection of Yom Kipur which ended at sundown today (Wednesday).

Israel's Channel 2 News reported tonight that Italian authorities notified their Israeli counterparts on the deportation from Italy of three Iranians who were caught with evidently-forged Israeli passports. In reporting this, Times of Israel says un-named security officials
are looking into possible connections between the three and attempts to carry out terror attacks against Israelis throughout the world.
We wrote about an earlier incident ["20-Sep-14: Iran is not commenting but Kenya may have just thwarted another Iranian terror attack"] in which two Iranians were arrested in Nairobi attempting to enter Kenya using fake Israeli passports. Our post refers to other incidents involving Iranians and false passports, sometimes Israeli, sometimes not. Worth noting who employs them and the general sense of foreboding in the air.

Why would a blog like ours, with a sharp focus on terror, be writing about Italians, Iranians and passports? Perhaps it would be a good idea to click on that 2014 link.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

11-Oct-16: Who will live and who will die: A Hamas plot is thwarted in Jerusalem

In court today: Thwarted before becoming another Islamist
human bomb [Image Source: Ynet]
As Jews throughout the world prepare for Yom Kippur which commences at sundown today, many will be thinking of the momentous words we are going to recite in the Une'taneh Tokef prayer (in Hebrew: ונתנה תוקף). A key moment in the liturgy for Rosh Hashanah as well as for Yom Kippur for centuries, it is sung and chanted while the ark of the Torah remains open and the members of the congregation are standing:
"You alone are the One Who judges, proves, knows, and bears witness; Who writes and seals, Who counts and Who calculates. You will remember all that was forgotten... All of mankind will pass before You like a flock of sheep. Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, making sheep pass under his staff, so shall You cause to pass, count, calculate, and consider the soul of all the living; and You shall apportion the destinies of all Your creatures and inscribe their verdict. On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed – how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword and who by beast, who by famine and who by thirst, who by upheaval and who by plague, who by strangling and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted. But Repentance, Prayer, and Charity annul the severe Decree..."
Our personal experience as parents of a child shockingly murdered at the age of fifteen sensitize us to how everything you assume about life can be violently upended irrevocably in moments. Our daughter Malki and her friend Michal stopped off in a central Jerusalem pizzeria for a quick lunch on a school-vacation afternoon just as a human bomb, despatched by the Islamist savages of Hamas, walked in and made his way to where they were giving their order at the counter.

In triggering the explosives hidden in a guitar case on his back, that young man permanently changed the world for us and for many dozens of others: the victims, their families and friends, the many maimed by the explosives and hurt by the shrapnel and by the vicious little black nails that were stuffed into the bomb. And by the injustices that followed.

(Keep those nails in mind as you read on.)

Prayers on Yom Kippur | Wikimedia Commons
We're reminded today of the terribly fine line between the unthinkable happening, and awful outcomes averted by an intervention.

It was reported in the past hour (it's now Tuesday, 12 noon) that an Arab from East Jerusalem has just been indicted in an Israeli court on charges of planning to carry out an attack by a human-bomb (the man himself) on a Jerusalem bus. Here's the Times of Israel's account:

On September 9, the Shin Bet security service arrested alleged Hamas operative Fuaz Ibrahim Julani [the Jerusalem Post gives his name as Muhammad Fuaz Ibrahim Julani] a resident of the Shuafat refugee camp, a few days before he planned to carry out... a terror attack on behalf of Hamas, the Shin Bet said. [H]e told an accomplice he planned to carry out the suicide bombing as “this is the way of God,” according to the indictment. The Hamas terror group’s operatives in the Gaza Strip had been in contact with Julani through the internet in order to plan the bombing and had also encouraged him to recruit other people to carry out attacks, according to the indictment filed against him Tuesday in the Jerusalem District Court.., Though Julani ultimately decided to carry out a suicide bus bombing in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of Jerusalem, according to the Shin Bet, he said in his interrogation he had also considered a shooting attack with an AK-47 assault rifle near the Hizme checkpoint; bombing a store where he had worked in 2011; throwing an improvised explosive device at the checkpoint in Shuafat; and pipe bomb attacks in high-traffic locations of Jerusalem, like the bus station and the Malha shopping mall... [He] decided to carry out a suicide bombing after the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which was celebrated from September 12 to 16. By carrying out his attack after the holiday, Julani hoped to prevent Israel from restricting Muslims’ access to the Temple Mount during the holiday, according to the Shin Bet... When Julani was arrested on September 9, he had already purchased the materials necessary to create his bomb, including nails that he planned to pack into the device to maximize the damage... Two members of Julani’s family, Mehmed and Iyad Julani, were also arrested for allegedly helping him hide his illegal weapons.
Over at Ynet, they make an especially chilling observation:
The Shin Bet and Israel Police said that the arrest illustrate the relentless efforts of Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip to carry out serious terrorist attacks inside Israel and the West Bank. Furthermore, both agencies emphasized the use of Arab-Israeli residents by Hamas to gain access to Israeli territory.
There's no getting away from the fact that that last point is poorly understood. It's difficult to take seriously any analysis of how peace can be found and how Islamist terror can be deflected without confronting the realities. What's going on in the minds of the other side? It's a real question, and there are answers.

Our contribution is to point readers to several fact-filled posts that convey information we have found startling: 

Monday, October 10, 2016

10-Oct-16: Does yesterday's Arab-on-Israeli shooting attack say anything about our neighbours?

The cold-blooded murder of Levanah
at a Jerusalem tram
stop yesterday has warmed many
Palestinian Arab hearts
It's hard to think about the explosion of violence ["09-Oct-16: In Jerusalem, first reports of Arab-on-Israeli shootings this morning"] yesterday in this city of great beauty and of peace and spirituality without reflecting on the awful savagery of the past several years. Do yesterday's events add anything to our understanding?

In the aftermath of Sunday's attack by a lethally-armed Palestinian Arab attacker on unarmed Israelis standing at tram-stops in the capital, the New York Times looked at the people behind the attack:
Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls the Palestinian coastal territory of Gaza, praised the attack and described the gunman as “one of ours.” Al Quds, the Hamas-affiliated television station, broadcast a video that it said was exclusive to the channel and that it described as the perpetrator’s last words. It was not clear when or where the video had been filmed. In it, the man, wearing a green polo shirt, the color of Islam and of Hamas’s flag, stood before a map of historic Palestine.
Not an outright claim of ownership - though Times of Israel says it is, quoting Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum who characterized the cowardly shooting of randomly-targeted Israelis as “a natural reaction to the crimes and violations of the occupation against our people.”

Hamas are riding the wave of Palestinian Arab support for savagery of Sunday morning's kind. And not to be out-flanked, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement also praised that attack, calling it “heroic.”

How widespread is that support?

We offered a view some months ago, in "15-Jun-16: What do the Palestinian Arabs think?". The picture provided by reputable Arab pollsters is strikingly consistent. The answers are so clear-cut and so extreme that it's astounding they are referred to so little in the news commentary provided by 'experts'.

Here's one of the ways the flames keep being stoked. Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, writes that members of the killer's family
joined the celebrations of his “martyrdom,” handing out candies to all those who passed by their house. Even his young daughter put out a video in which she expressed her joy in her father becoming a “shahid” (martyr)... The terrorist published a “will” in which he called on Muslims to act to protect the [Al-Aqsa] mosque.  ["Does the Jerusalem terror attack signal a new uprising?", Times of Israel, October 9, 2016]
The killer's daughter is Ma'an's principal focus today. The father
earlier posted a statement saying "We sacrifice
our children for Al-Aqsa".
The family's adulation of yesterday's murders, and of the murderer, is a major talking point for the reporters and editors of Ma'an News Agency. The main story on their English-language news site at this moment (Monday October 10, 2016 at 12 noon) is headed "Israeli forces detain slain Palestinian gunman's 14-year-old daughter"
A video of Eiman hailing her father’s actions went viral on social media on Sunday"We deem my father as martyr,” she said in the video. “We hope he will plead for us before God on judgment day… I am proud of what my father did..." 
From the same Arab source, additional hard-to-miss signs of how much support there is currently in Palestinian Arab circles for the murder of innocent Jews:
Hamas said on Sunday afternoon that Abu Sbeih was a member of its Islamic resistance movement. Meanwhile, the Fatah movement in Jerusalem declared a day of mourning for slain Palestinians on Sunday afternoon following Abu Sbeih’s death. Fatah said in a statement it rejected Israeli forces’ killing of Palestinians, especially in Jerusalem, and that it would never leave the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the Old City “fall prey” to Israeli “extremists and terrorists” Ma'an News Agency, October 10, 2016]
Yosef Kirmah, newly-married, a '
decorated anti-terrorism hero,
now dead
Fatah, to remind those of lose sight of such things, is headed by "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority:
In two separate posts on its official Facebook page, Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Movement honored the terrorist murderer... Fatah referred to the murderer as a "Shahid," an Islamic Martyr - someone who died for Allah - a status the Palestinian Authority presents as the highest achievement a Muslim can reach in life. Defining a dead murderer as a Shahid indicates that according to Fatah, the murder of Israelis is sanctioned and even desired in the name of Islam. Palestinian Media Watch has documented that it is PA and Fatah policy to glorify terrorist murderers and turn them into role models for Palestinian society.
Fatah and the Palestinian Authority for quite some time have been defining the conflict with Israel as a religious war, defining all attackers and the murderers of Israelis as heroic defenders of Islam and its symbols. Fatah's Jerusalem branch announced "mourning and a general strike for Palestine's Martyrs" and specifically mentioned today's killer - "this morning's Martyr" and vowed to "defend the honor of the Arab and Islamic nations with our bare chests"... Voice of Palestine Radio likewise reported that the Jerusalem branch of Fatah announced a day of mourning and a general strike in Jerusalem “due to the death of the Shahid Abu Sbeih.” [Palestinian Media Watch, October 9, 2016]
The head of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, reportedly phoned the parents of the dead terrorist last night from his penthouse suite in Qatar, absurdly telling them his deeds “defended the Palestinian people” who, he said, were “proud” of what he did and who will serve as an “example” to his contemporaries. “Hamas will carry on it its jihad until Palestine and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are liberated from the impurity of the occupation”, said Mashal in a reminder of one of the central truths of the generations-long bloody conflict: it has almost nothing to do with creating another Arab state, and everything to do with destroying the only Jewish one.

In addition to the six wounded, two Israelis were killed in yesterday's murderous attack. 

Yosef Kirmah, an officer in an Israel Police counter-terrorism unit, the Yasam (a Hebrew acronym for Special Patrol Unit), was one of the police motor-cyclists who pursued the gunman after the attack and engaged in a gunfight with him in which the gunman also died. He was 29. Hundreds attended his funeral late yesterday at Jerusalem's Mt Herzl Military Cemetery:
In her eulogy, Noy Kirma, whose husband had been awarded a medal of honor last December for thwarting a Palestinian stabbing attack on kindergarten kids, continued: “How many plans we had — for a home and children. You loved me more than I love myself... You were my shoulder to lean on…” said the young widow, who had been married to the Israeli hero for only six months before his life was cut short. “You were loved by all. You were number one in their eyes. Number one in my eyes. I don’t know how the world will turn without you…You will be in my heart until the day I die.” [Algemeiner, October 9, 2016]
A Facebook page, quickly set up in his memory, served as a magnet for expressions of incitement and hatred during yesterday. Israel National News says:
Facebook users from Israel’s Arab sector bombarded Kirma’s memorial page with abusive taunts, anti-Semitic smears, and explicit incitement to violence and even threats of murder. Some of the offensive posts included images of anti-Semitic caricatures, pictures of bloody drawn knives and vulgar language.
Levanah Malichi, the second victim of yesterday's shooting ramage, died of her injuries at the Hadassah hospital on nearby Mt. Scopus. She left behind a husband, three children and six grandchildren. Many Jerusalemites remember her fondly from the three decades of her work on the administrative and logistics side of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. The Knesset speaker Yuli Edestein is expected to eulogize Malichi at her funeral today.

The police say (according to Haaretz) that the shooter
used a .556-caliber automatic rifle, in contrast to the crude, homemade firearms typically used in past attacks... [P]olice were trying to determine how the shooter had obtained the weapon.
It's unlikely that that particular high-power, automatic weapon is the only one currently in the hands of murder-minded Palestinian Arabs, already well-equipped with what are sometimes called home-made guns. The current tensions are unlikely to abate soon.

The same is true of the open adulation for the dead gunman, as evidenced by doing a Google search on "الشهيد أبو صبيح". Those Arabic words translate to "Martyr Abu Sabih", which is the name more than 60,000 hits give at this hour to the man who mercilessly opened fire with his high-powered rifle on unsuspecting Israeli commuters yesterday in order to "save" a house of prayer. In a string of Facebook posts, the gunman offered such thoughts as "We sacrifice our souls and our blood for you Al-Aqsa" and "We sacrifice our children for Al-Aqsa".

His frame of mind and his actions are likely on the minds of many other Palestinian Arabs today.

We're wide open to being shown Arabic-language condemnations of the pointless killings perpetrated in Jerusalem yesterday. If there are truly angry Arab voices out there, or even just some expressions of Palestinian Arab despair at the open bigotry and the immorality of celebrating murders, people need to hear them and know about them.

We're waiting, as we have been for some time.