PA Honors Released Terrorist Prisoners
The Palestinian Authority held an event approved by President Mahmoud Abbas honoring several released Palestinian terrorists with plaques of honor. Later in the event, Palestinian young adults performed a play in which they portray the uniting of Fatah and Hamas supporters, who together shoot and kill Israelis. In the play, the characters also shoot a Palestinian who has been spying for Israel, Palestinian Media Watch reported.
“[Fatah and Hamas], unify your ranks. Palestine is calling you. Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is calling you. Haifa, Acre, Jaffa, Lod, Tiberias, Ramle, and Safed (all are cities in Israel), all of Palestine is calling you from the river (Jordan) to the deep sea (Mediterranean, i.e., all of Israel),” a girl said in the play. v
Nasrallah Vows To ‘Punish’ Israel Over Death Of Top Operative
Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary-general, blamed Israel for the assassination of his top operative Hassan al-Laqqis last month and vowed to “punish” Israel for the killing. “All evidence indicates that Israel is behind the assassination,” Nasrallah said Friday in a televised tribute to al-Laqqis, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the Israelis think . . . that Hezbollah is busy and that Israel will not pay the price, I say to them today, ‘You are wrong,’” Nasrallah added.
A jihadist group called “The Free Sunnis of Baalbek Battalion” took responsibility for the assassination earlier this month, and Israel has denied any involvement. Israel has also hinted that the motive behind the killing may lie with Hezbollah’s backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against the Sunni Muslim rebels.
“It’s an astonishing phenomenon, to be honest with you. If you can just look historically, the fight over Syria has ignited [the Sunni/Shi’a divide] like never before,” Dr. Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, recently told JNS.org. v
Terror Attacks Continue In Israel
Bomb Explodes on Bus near Tel Aviv after Evacuation. A bomb exploded on a bus south of Tel Aviv on Sunday after being spotted by passengers, who were evacuated before the explosion.
According to the Jerusalem Post, one of the passengers on the bus traveling from Bnei Brak to Bat Yam opened a big black bag and described what looked like a pressure cooker inside of it, with a red wire coming out. The driver evacuated the bus, and when the police arrived, the bomb detonated before they could defuse it, with the explosion lightly injuring a nearby police officer.
Israeli Guard Stabbed, Gaza Rocket Falls in Ashkelon. An Israeli security guard was stabbed in Judea and Samaria, and he was transported to a hospital in Jerusalem for treatment. On Monday in Ashkelon, Israeli police also found remnants of a Gaza rocket near a bus stop frequently used by schoolchildren, the Times of Israel reported.
Another stabbing attack was thwarted Sunday when IDF soldiers apprehended three Palestinians at the Mishor Adumim checkpoint in Judea and Samaria, reported Yedioth Ahronoth.
Naftali Bennett: ‘We are pursuing the peace process as if there is no terror.’ Israeli Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett questioned the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations in light of Monday’s stabbing of an Israeli policeman. “We are pursuing the peace process as if there is no terror,” Bennett said. “The assertion that the Palestinian Authority is not tied to the attacks is blowing up in our faces every day.”
A Palestinian man stabbed Israeli policeman Rami Ravid in the back on Monday near the town of Geva Binyamin outside Jerusalem. Ravid had “a complex surgery that began when the knife was still lodged in his back,” said Dr. Ofer Merin of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
“He was saved by a miracle,” Merin said, Israel Hayom reported. “The knife was close to his heart and other major blood vessels.”
Palestinian Sniper Kills Israeli Defense Ministry Employee. The recent uptick in Palestinian terrorism against Israel continued Tuesday when a Palestinian sniper fatally shot 22-year-old Salah Shukri Abu Latyef, a civilian employee of the Israeli Defense Ministry, while Latyef was making repairs to the Israel-Gaza border fence.
Latyef, a tractor driver, was airlifted to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where he died of his wounds from the shooting. The Israel Air Force responded to the murder by striking two Hamas training camps, Reuters reported.
“This is a very severe incident and we will not let it go unanswered,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “Our policy until now has been to act to thwart such incidents beforehand and to respond in force and this is how we will act regarding this incident as well.”
The murder of Latyef follows Sunday’s bus bombing near Tel Aviv, which resulted in no civilian injuries after the bus was successfully evacuated, and Monday’s stabbing of an Israeli policeman. v
U.S. Officials In Israel Ordered To Avoid Public Transportation
Following the recent uptick in Palestinian terrorism, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv has issued an Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens, prohibiting U.S. citizen embassy employees and their families from taking public transportation–including shared minibus taxis–and urging Americans in Israel to “exercise caution and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security.”
The message, published on the embassy’s website and Facebook page, comes in the wake of the bus bombing in Bat Yam on Sunday, in which passenger vigilance averted a tragedy. The restriction on taking shared minibus taxis is in place for two weeks to allow U.S. officials to assess the security situation.
Meanwhile, Israeli tourist organizations are also concerned by the recent increase in Palestinian terrorist activities, fearing an impact on Israel’s tourism sector.
“The sense is that we have to expand our efforts to market Israel to the world,” said Israel Hotels Association Director-General Shmuel Tzurel. (Israel Hayom) v
Palestinian Prisoners To Be Released Despite Recent Terror Attacks
Israel plans to forge ahead with the third phase of the Palestinian prisoners’ release despite the recent string of terror attacks. The release has been set for Sunday and will include 26 terrorists.
Israel pledged to release 104 terrorists who were jailed prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords, ahead of the resumption of the peace talks in July. The gesture was divided into four phases, two of which–comprising 52 Palestinian prisoners–have already been completed.
A senior Jerusalem source said Tuesday that “government decisions, much like promises made to the U.S., must be kept.” He stressed that “the situation on the ground, including the terror attacks noted over the past few days will not affect the release, despite the fact that they weigh heavily on the public’s mind.”
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar said Tuesday that the government is likely to hold a special session ahead of the fourth phase of the prisoners’ release, to discuss whether or not to include Israeli Arab prisoners in the process.
“The prime minister promised [the ministers] that the issue of releasing Israeli-Arab prisoners would be revisited,” he said. “Releasing terrorists is problematic as it is, and it has certainly contributed to the recent wave of terror. We have to reassess the situation.”
As ahead of the previous phases, members of the political Right protested the move. Deputy Defense Minister MK Danny Danon (Likud) on Wednesday facilitated a meeting between MKs from the Right and the mothers of terror victims, who sought to present the MKs with what they called “the consensus against the terrorists’ release.”
“Going ahead with the third phase of the terrorists’ release is beyond absurd, especially given the recent wave of terror attacks,” Finance Committee Chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) said. (Israel Hayom) v
Talks Extension Requested By Israel
Israel has asked the U.S. to extend the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations by a year. If such an extension is not approved, Israel believes it is likely the talks will fail. Israel’s concern stems from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s eagerness to get a framework agreement signed.
Israel, the Palestinians, and the U.S. agreed at the onset of talks that negotiations would proceed uninterrupted for nine months, with the goal of reaching a final peace accord and announcing an end to the conflict. The nine-month period ends in May. Israel has offered to sign a document stating that the two sides agree to extend the negotiations for another year, Israel Hayom reported.
Government officials say the Palestinians refuse to sign a framework agreement that would at the end of negotiations require them to recognize Israel as the Jewish state and require Israel to recognize the Palestinians’ need to form a nation. As long as the Palestinians refuse, Netanyahu will refuse to draw out a future Palestinian state on a map. v