Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-17-2019

Gaza Attacks
Incendiary balloon attacks from Gaza continue, despite the ceasefire agreement reached after the latest round of fighting between Israel and the Gaza terror groups, which included the transfer of $25 million to Hamas from Qatar.

At least three fires were started on Sunday in the Eshkol and Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Councils. All the fires were extinguished and no injuries were reported. The same two communities were subjected to incendiary balloons attacks on Friday as well with at least seven fires breaking out there. Between Tuesday and Thursday more than a dozen fires were started as a result of terror balloons.

The terrorists have apparently devised a new method of delivering the incendiary balloons which causes more fires. They soak a slow-burning fuse in explosive liquids and attach it to an incendiary balloon. The balloon drips fireballs as it flies, creating several ignition points from just one device.

Meanwhile, Palestinian media is reporting that an IDF unit trying to enter the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza last night came under fire from Hamas and was forced to retreat back into Israel. The IDF has not commented on the report.

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Election Update
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on Sunday reiterated that he would only join a government of national unity after the September 17 elections, citing a looming economic crisis and the need to block religious and far-right legislation. He told Channel 13 on Saturday night that he would only support a coalition of both Likud and the Blue and White party as such a government would better reflect the will of the voters.

In response, Likud warned that Lieberman would lead to a left-wing government, so voters should vote only for Likud. Meanwhile, Blue and White has pledged not to join a unity government as long as PM Netanyahu faces corruption charges.

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Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, of the haredi UTJ party, rejected reports that his party was discussing joining a government with Blue and White. He reiterated that UTJ will only join in a government formed by PM Netanyahu.

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Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that Israel should take advantage having a sympathetic US administration in office and annex Area C of the West Bank, which is roughly 60% of the West Bank and contains all of the Jewish settlements and is under full Israeli military control.

She also confirmed that she would run again in the upcoming election but did not indicted what party she would run with. Shaked is viewed by many as the only person who can unite the right wing voter base.

Meanwhile, the PM is expected to appoint United Right leader Rafi Peretz as education minister and the second-in-command, MK Bezalel Smotrich, as transportation minister in his interim cabinet. Both men will also reportedly be given seats in the security cabinet. However, Smotrich said today that he would not, under any circumstances, join a temporary cabinet.

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Trump Heights
The cabinet convened in the Golan on Sunday to to announce the inauguration of a new settlement named after President Donald Trump, called Ramat Trump or Trump Heights. U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, who attended the ceremony, called it “absolutely beautiful” and said, “I can’t think of a more appropriate and a more beautiful birthday present.” Friday was the president’s birthday. In April, the US president recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

The settlement, which was established in 1991 as Beruchim, currently has only 10 residents. The newest plan is to build 110 housing units in Trump Heights. For now, there will be no luxury high-rise apartments or hotels. But you gotta start somewhere.

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Mixed Celebration
The mayor of a West Bank village was expelled from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party after pictures emerged of Israeli ultra-Orthodox settlers attending his son’s wedding celebration. The group from Modi’in Ilit were at Thursday’s celebrations for the son of Radi Nasser, mayor of Deir Qaddis, at the invitation of Palestinians who work with them at a car repair garage near the settlement.

The mayor denied any knowledge of the Israelis’ participation, telling the Jerusalem Post: “When I learned about the presence of the settlers, I kicked them out, together with the (Palestinian) men who were with them.” But pictures of the wedding appeared online showing the Jewish men dancing with other wedding guests.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh as saying that the participation of “terrorist settlers in Palestinian social events is a cowardly, condemnable, despicable and reprehensible act.” The PA said it will launch an investigation and possibly take steps against those who invited the Israelis. 

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