Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Israel retaliatory strikes against Hamas kill pregnant Palestinian, 2-year-old daughter

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A pregnant Palestinian woman and her 2-year-old daughter reportedly were killed in a retaliatory airstrike by Israel against Hamas.

The early Sunday morning strike by the Israeli Air Force against what it called two “Hamas weapon manufacturing facilities” in the northern Gaza Strip came in response to two rocket attacks on Israel. The Palestinian Maan news agency reported on the two deaths.

The Iron Dome missile defense system had intercepted a rocket over the densely populated southern city of Ashkelon the previous night, according to the Israel Defense Forces. On Friday night, three rockets were fired from Gaza at a town on the Israeli border with the coastal strip. Following the attack, an additional Iron Dome battery was deployed on Saturday to southern Israel near Beersheba.

Last Friday evening and Saturday, at least seven Palestinians were killed while trying to infiltrate at the border fence between Israel and Gaza. Dozens of Palestinian rioters broke through the barrier, the IDF said.

The IDF said in a statement that it holds Hamas responsible for the aggression from Gaza.

“This weekend we have seen clear incitement encouraging the breach of Israel’s sovereignty, violent confrontation against Israelis and threatening the residence of southern Israel,” said IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner. “The IDF will continue to act, preempt and defeat those that plot to harm the civilians of Israel.”

Hamas warned Israel to stop its air attacks on Gaza.

“This shows the occupation’s desire to escalate,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Sunday, Iran’s Press TV reported. “We warn the occupation against continuing this foolishness.”

Palestinian woman detonates explosives in car near Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A Palestinian woman detonated explosives in her car at a West Bank checkpoint near Jerusalem.

An Israeli policeman was injured in the attack by a 31-year-old from Jericho at a checkpoint near the city of Maale Adumim on Sunday morning. The bomber was seriously injured and taken to a Jerusalem hospital.

She reportedly shouted “God is great” in Arabic before detonating the explosives, and tried to jump out of the car right before the explosion, according to police. The car carried a canister of gas, police said, which may indicate that she had intended to carry out a larger attack.

The woman, whose car had Israeli license plates, was pulled over for driving a “suspicious vehicle” in a carpool lane, according to police.

The Palestinian Maan news agency reported that the car had an “electrical problem” that ignited a small fire in the car.

The attack followed several violent episodes on Saturday, including two stabbing attacks in Jerusalem that injured at least three Israeli civilians and a police officer; several rock-throwing attacks that injured Israeli civilians and soldiers; the killing of at least seven Palestinian rioters trying to infiltrate Israel at the Gaza security fence; and retaliatory airstrikes by Israel against Hamas that killed a pregnant Palestinian and her 2-year-old daughter.

4 Israelis injured in kibbutz stabbing attack

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Four Israelis were injured, including one critically, in a stabbing attack at a kibbutz in northern Israel.

A 19-year-old woman was reported to have damage to multiple organs as a result of the attack on Sunday at Gan Shmuel, near Hadera. Two of the victims were moderately wounded, and a 45-year-old man was lightly injured.

The suspected assailant was caught by police, who identified him as a 20-year-old Arab-Israeli from the northern Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, located 12 miles from the scene of the attack.

Also Sunday, two Israelis were injured in rock-throwing attacks in the West Bank.

Arab-Israeli lawmaker to be investigated over call for ‘real intifada’

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed his attorney general to open a criminal investigation against an Arab-Israeli lawmaker who called for a “real intifada” against Israel.

The statement by Hanin Zoabi of the Arab Joint List was printed in al-Risala, the official newspaper of Hamas, on Oct. 8.

Netanyahu said Sunday during the weekly Cabinet meeting that his government would use all means at its disposal to prevent incitement from within.

“This wild and deceitful incitement is a clear call to violence,” he said. “This is serious and I will not ignore it.”

Zoabi said in al-Risala: “Hundreds of thousands of worshipers should go up to Al-Aqsa in order to face down an Israeli plot for the blood of East Jerusalem residents. Today there are actions only by individuals and what is needed is popular support. If only individual attacks continue without popular support, they will sputter out within a few days. Therefore the outpouring of thousands of our people will make these events a real intifada.”

Zoabi, who participated in the 2010 flotilla sail to Gaza to break Israel’s blockade organized by the Islamic IHH group in Turkey, has been censured in the past for anti-Israel statements. She was suspended from the Knesset for statements she made in the summer of 2014 encouraging Palestinian “popular resistance” and saying that the kidnappers of three Israeli teens, who later were murdered, were not terrorists.

She was banned by Israel’s Central Elections Committee from running in 2013 and 2015 elections in decisions that were overturned by Israel’s Supreme Court.

Also Sunday, Netanyahu said that he would convene a meeting to advance government action against the Islamic Movement in Israel.

Kerry to Netanyahu and Abbas: Condemn violence, restore calm in Israel

(JTA)—U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for efforts to restore calm in Israel during telephone conversations with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Kerry over the weekend spoke with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about the current wave of violence throughout Israel, the State Department said in a statement.

The statement said that Kerry called the leaders “to express his deep concern over the recent wave of violence and offer his support for efforts to restore calm as soon as possible. He reiterated the importance of strongly condemning violence and combating incitement, and taking affirmative steps to reduce tensions.”

Kerry also “stressed the importance of upholding the status quo in word and deed at the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount and of preventing inflammatory rhetoric and actions that will increase tensions.”

The secretary of state that he would follow the situation “closely” and that the U.S. will “remain engaged in efforts to restore calm.”

Netanyahu said in a statement that during the phone conversation, he “made it clear that he expects the Palestinian Authority to stop its wild and mendacious incitement, which is causing the current wave of terrorism.”

The statement also said that Kerry “clarified that the U.S. is aware of the fact that it is Israel’s policy to maintain the status quo and not change it.”

The status quo at the Temple Mount, a holy site for Jews and Muslims, allows Jews to visit but confine obvious worship to the adjacent Western Wall while leaving the day-to-day administration of the mosque compound to a Muslim authority, the Waqf.

Netanyahu on Saturday ordered the reinforcement of Israel Police units, mobilizing three reserve Border Police companies for Jerusalem and 13 others throughout the rest of the country.

Palestinian teen reportedly killed in clashes with Israeli troops

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A 13-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

The clashes took place Sunday near Ramallah. Maan cited local medics in its report on the boy.

Also Sunday in the West Bank, Israeli forces shot and injured at least 50 Palestinians, including a Maan cameraman, during clashes at a checkpoint near Nablus, according to Maan.

Protests also took place in the West Bank city of Tulkarem, near Hebron, and in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Dis.

3 Jewish girls allegedly attack Arab man with pepper spray in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A group of Jewish girls allegedly attacked an Arab man working in Jerusalem with pepper spray.

Three suspects were detained for questioning after the incident downtown on Sunday, the Jerusalem Police reported.

Also Sunday, five Israeli Jews were ordered held by the Rishon LeZion Magistrate’s Court after being arrested on suspicion of beating an Arab man last week in Netanya, in central Israel, the Times of Israel reported.

An indictment also was filed against a Jewish man, 23, for throwing rocks at Arab drivers in Jerusalem over the past few days.

Also Sunday, a Jewish-Israeli man was indicted in Jerusalem District Court for attacking two Arab-Israeli workers near David’s Tomb in a racially motivated attack, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Matisyahu concert attracts thousands near Jerusalem’s Old City walls

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Thousands of Israelis turned out to see the American Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu perform in Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem, I’m home,” Matisyahu said Saturday night during his concert at Sultan’s Pool, outside the Old City.

The crowd turned out despite a rash of stabbing attacks in recent days in Jerusalem and throughout the country, including two in the Old City hours before the concert.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat thanked the crowd for coming, as well as the Israel Police and security services for their efforts during the recent wave of terrorist acts.

4th Seinfeld performance added for Tel Aviv

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A fourth performance was added in Israel for comedian Jerry Seinfeld after three others sold out.

It is the first time that Seinfeld will perform his stand-up routine in Israel.

Seinfeld will present two shows on Dec. 19 and two on Dec. 20 in Tel Aviv. Tickets range from $65 to more than $230.

The comedian, who starred in the eponymous hit TV show in the 1990s, last visited Israel in 2007 when he was promoting “The Bee Movie.”

Shin Bet No. 2 approved as head of Israel Police

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The deputy director of the Shin Bet security service was approved as head of the Israel Police.

On Sunday, Israel’s Cabinet unanimously backed the appointment of Ronen Alsheich, 52, as inspector general. His name had been under censorship rules since his nomination last month due to his position with the Shin Bet.

Alsheich, who was nominated by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, is scheduled to take over on Nov. 11.

“Roni is a professional who has advanced many reforms in the field of security, and I am sure that his professional capabilities, together with the values he brings along with him, will allow him to march the Israel Police forward and manage all the challenges facing it,” Erdan said.

The appointment came at the end of a protracted debate in the media and elsewhere about the suitability of Erdan’s first pick, Gal Hirsch.

Several bereaved parents protested the appointment of Hirsch, whom Erdan said in August is best equipped to rehabilitate the Israel Police after a string of scandals involving corruption, sexual harassment and alleged racism.

Opponents cited perceived failures in Hirsch’s performance as brigadier general during the 2006 war in Lebanon against Hezbollah.

Israeli security official: ‘Lone wolf’ terrorism, not Abbas, behind violence

(JTA)—Israeli security officials said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is working to calm tensions in the West Bank, even as violence has surged.

An unnamed security official said last Friday that “lone wolf terrorism,” attacks by individuals acting on their own, is the main cause of the current violence, the Times of Israel reported, citing Israel Radio.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders in the Gaza Strip have called on Palestinians in the West Bank to escalate violence, with a member of the political wing of Gaza-based Islamic Jihad urging the P.A.’s security forces to halt all cooperation with Israel and to confront Israeli troops and settlers.

In addition, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at weekly Muslim prayers in Gaza City last Friday called for “the strengthening and increasing of the intifada.”

Soon after Haniyeh’s speech, six Palestinians were killed and 19 others were injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers in a protest on the Gaza-Israel border.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said last Friday that Hamas was responsible for the fatalities because it had encouraged the protesters to approach the border fence, from where they rolled burning tires and threw stones at Israeli soldiers on the other side.

Leading rabbi: Jewish visitors to Temple Mount ‘sparked’ current tensions

(JTA)—A leading Sephardic rabbi who advises the haredi Orthodox Shas party criticized Jews who have been visiting the Temple Mount, saying they “sparked all the current tumult.”

Rabbi Shimon Baadani, a member of Shas’ Council of Torah Sages, said Thursday on a Shas radio program, according to Haaretz: “Do not provoke the nations, even if we are in control here, there is a halachah. I don’t know on whose authority they permit themselves to provoke and cause an armed struggle like is happening now … they are forbidden.”

Israel’s chief rabbis first ruled in 1967, after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, that halachah, or Jewish law, forbids Jews from visiting the Temple Mount to prevent them from inadvertently stepping over the Holy of Holies, where the ark of the Covenant was said to be stored in the First Temple.

The rabbis reaffirmed the prohibition in 2013. In addition, Israeli law bars Jews from praying at the site, which is administered by the Muslim Waqf.

However, a number of Orthodox Jews, among them Rabbi Yehuda Glick, have questioned the ruling and advocated for Jews to have the right to pray on the mount. Such activists have visited the Temple Mount, the site of frequent tensions between Jews and Palestinians, more frequently in recent years.

In his remarks Thursday, Baadani said that saving life trumps any mitzvah, and thus asked, “Why enter the Temple Mount?”

On Oct. 8, in an effort to calm tensions there, Netanyahu ordered members of his Cabinet and members of the Knesset, including Arabs, not to enter the Temple Mount.

Settler leader’s wife and children hurt as a result of stoning attack

(JTA)—Six people, including the wife and three children of a leader of Israeli settlers, were wounded in an accident caused by Palestinians who hurled stones at their car.

Oriya Dagan, the wife of Yossi Dagan, head of the Regional Municipality of Samaria, and their children sustained minor injuries in the accident last Friday afternoon in the West Bank while they were driving to Jerusalem, Channel 2 reported.

The family and two other passengers were driving to Jerusalem to spend Shabbat with Yossi Dagan, who is camped out in front of the residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in protest of what Dagan and other settler leaders perceive as the government’s weak response to what Netanyahu on Oct. 7 said was a “wave of terror” by Palestinians.

Several Israelis were injured on Oct. 8 and 9 in attacks by Palestinians. Two attacks by Jewish radicals on Palestinians and Arabs also resulted in injuries. In Dimona, four Arabs were stabbed by a 17-year-old Jewish male and suffered minor to moderate wounds. In Netanya, a young Arab-Israeli was beaten by a some Jews who shouted “death to Arabs.”

Last Friday, six Palestinians, including a 15-year-old boy, were killed by Israeli security during two riots near Israel’s border with Gaza and in one stabbing near Hebron. Also, a Palestinian woman was shot at the central bus station in the northern city of Afula, reportedly after trying to stab an Israeli soldier.


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