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Israel Prepared for ‘Extensive Campaign’ in Gaza If Needed as Tensions Remain

March 31, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu in area adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon (GPO)

More riots and more rockets from Gaza over the weekend left Israel in a “tense time” according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and he is keeping his options open in response—including the prospect of a new war with Gaza terrorists. “I have ordered that IDF forces remain fully deployed around the Gaza Strip. This includes tanks, artillery, ground forces and air forces. We are prepared for any scenario and—if need be—an extensive campaign,” said Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office. “We will do what needs to be done for the security of Israel.”

The Israeli leader’s comments follow a confrontational last couple days. On Saturday, five rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel, with the IDF responding by hitting Hamas military posts in Gaza with tank fire, according to the IDF Twitter feed. One day prior, the IDF posted to Twitter that tens of thousands of “violent rioters” had come to the Gaza border with Israel.

“40,000 violent rioters in Gaza, some armed with knives, explosives, and grenades, are attempting to breach Israel’s border and reach Israeli families on the other side of the fence. If our soldiers weren’t there, they could,” tweeted the IDF account. … Continue Reading

US Formally Recognizes Israeli Control over Golan, Citing Security Concerns

March 25, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu and President Trump. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

United States President Donald Trump made history in favor of Israel again on Monday, becoming the first American president to officially recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights region that border Syria. The territory, captured by Israel in 1967 while battling Syrian aggression, is a critical high ground for defense, and this was a key reason for the Trump’s decision.

Against the backdrop of Iranian buildup in Syria, ongoing threats from the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon and simmering Syrian antagonism against Israel, Trump signed a presidential declaration on Monday proclaiming that “the United States recognizes that the Golan Heights are part of the State of Israel.”

The declaration, posted to the White House website, noted that Israel “took control of the Golan Heights in 1967 to safeguard its security from external threats” and listed security concerns facing Israel today posed by Iran and terror groups such as Hezbollah. Those concerns were shared by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in the US for the Trump signing. “Your recognition is a two-fold act of historic justice,” Netanyahu told Trump in comments released by his office. “Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of self-defense, and the Jewish people’s roots in the Golan go back thousands of years.” … Continue Reading

Israeli Soldier Killed, Others Wounded in Multi-Location Terror Attack

March 17, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Terror knife attack strikes again. Illustrative photo of knives. Photo courtesy of Israel Ministry of Defense Crossing Authority

It started with a knife and continued with a gun, as a Palestinian terrorist on Sunday stabbed and killed a 19-year-old Israeli soldier, stole his gun and continued the rampage by shooting at Israelis at a bus stop. Another soldier was wounded in the second attack. The IDF Twitter account recapped the day of terror, noting that after the stabbing occurred at Ariel junction and the Palestinian had stolen the gun, the terrorist opened fire at civilians there before heading off to the second location in a car.

The Twitter feed for Israeli paramedic group Magen David Adom initially reported three people were being treated with gunshot wounds, one in critical condition. A follow up tweet said two persons “severely wounded” were being transferred to the hospital.

The IDF Twitter feed reported that Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan was the soldier killed in the initial stage of violence. According to the IDF Twitter feed, the wounded soldier was taken for medical care, while the terrorist remained at large. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in comments released by his office on Sunday, expressed confidence the attacker would be found. … Continue Reading

As Gaza Tensions Continue, Netanyahu Warns Israel ‘Will Do Everything Necessary’

March 10, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Gaza rocket attacks have resumed. Spent Palestinian rocket. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

More rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel over the weekend, and Israel responded with air strikes on terror targets. As the tensions between Israel and terrorists in the Gaza Strip brew, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a warning to those who think that next month’s election in Israel will prevent Israel from engaging in another full-scale military operation in Gaza.

“I suggest to Hamas—don’t count on it. We will do everything necessary to restore security and quiet to the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and to the south in general,” said Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office.

Netanyahu acknowledged that some of the attacks stemming from Gaza lately have come from other terror groups besides Hamas. However, given Hamas’ power as the authority in Gaza, the Israeli leader expects the main Gaza terror group to keep the smaller ones in line. “We have recently seen provocations and heads being raised from the direction of the Gaza Strip. This has been done by dissidents, but this does not absolve Hamas,” said Netanyahu. “Hamas is responsible for everything that comes out of the Gaza Strip, and we respond accordingly, with assaults by Air Force planes against Hamas targets.” … Continue Reading

Netanyahu and Putin Agree: Foreign Forces Should Exit Syria

March 3, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu and Russian President Putin at the Kremlin. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach / Israeli GPO

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s focus in last week’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was concerns over Iranian forces in Syria, and he may have achieved a breakthrough. The Israeli leader on Sunday said that Putin and he “agreed on a common goal—the withdrawal of foreign forces that arrived in Syria after the outbreak of the civil war.”

Based on Netanyahu’s comments, which were published by his office, that could mean that Moscow has concurred with Israel that Iranian base-building for a permanent presence in Syria is not acceptable. And Netanyahu and Putin even have a concrete plan for clearing Syria of these foreign forces: “We agreed to establish a joint team to advance this goal, together with other elements.” Russia is a key ally of Iran and may have diplomatic tools for influencing Tehran.

This is a tricky plan, since Russian foreign forces have also moved into Syria during the fighting there, but Israel’s main concerns are about Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, not Moscow. If Russia follows through on this promise to help nudge out those forces, this would be a key victory for Israeli diplomacy. Israel has already attacked the Iranian presence in Syria in an effort to prevent them from becoming entrenched in the country and thereby move the Iranian military to Israel’s northern border. Israel has also bombed weapons in Syria to prevent them from being transferred to the Hezbollah terrorist group, which is also an Iranian proxy. … Continue Reading

Netanyahu, Putin Talk of Friendly Ties ahead of Syrian Discussion

February 27, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu and Russian President Putin at the Kremlin. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach / Israeli GPO

As the Israeli and Russian leaders found one commonality after another between their countries in their meeting on Wednesday, it certainly didn’t look like Israel and Russia had tense relations just months ago. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had met 11 times in the last three-and-a-half-years, even as this was just the second face-to-face meeting—and the first in Moscow—since Russia accused Israel of negligence that led to a Russian plane being shot down last September by Syrian air defenses, according to a report at the time by Sputnik International.

While Israel denied the claims, Russia moved forward anyway with arming the Syrians with an advanced air defense system in response to the event, per a twitter post last week from ImageSat International. Yet just five months after the incident, and there was Putin accepting an invitation to visit Israel for the dedication ceremony for a memorial in Jerusalem to those who fell during the siege of Leningrad during World War II.

The warm signals sent by Putin are key, as Netanyahu’s primary goal during the visit was battling Iran in Syria—a sensitive topic given that Russia is a major player in Syria, has ties to Iran and backs their joint ally in the Assad regime. … Continue Reading

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