Israel News for May 4, 2016

Terror Attack
Three IDF soldiers were hit and wounded by a terrorist driving a van at a checkpoint near the settlement of Dolev and the Arab village of Ein el-Arik, in the West Bank’s Binyamin region. One of the soldiers suffered life threatening injuries. The terrorist was shot and killed.

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PA Arrests
The IDF has released data indicating that the Palestinian Authority’s security services have been responsible for about 40 percent of all arrests of suspected terrorists in the West Bank in recent months. Until about three months ago, they were responsible for only some 10 percent of such arrests. As a result of the increased PA security activity, the IDF has reduced its operations in Area A of the West Bank, which is where the PA is in full control.

About three weeks ago, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the extent of the IDF’s activity in Palestinian cities would depend on how much the PA security services were doing. Ya’alon said, “This isn’t something diplomatic – it’s about security. If they’ll do the work, why not? What they don’t do, we’ll have to do, but there’s no situation in which we’ll completely refrain from entering Area A. Such incursions will depend on their activity. If they do less, we’ll do more; if they do more, we’ll do less.”

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Gaza Visit
On Tuesday the Prime Minister, accompanied by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, GOC Southern Command Eyal Zamir, and the Gaza Division commander, toured the Gaza border and visited the massive tunnel recently discovered by Israeli forces. The PM also met with soldiers from the 51st Battalion and with IDF lookouts serving on the border. He told the soldiers that the past two years have been the calmest the area has known in many years.

Earlier today a mortar shell was fired at IDF troops doing engineering work near the Gaza border fence. Yesterday a sniper fired shots at IDF soldiers near the fence. The IDF responded by shelling a Hamas military observation post in the area.

The attacks from Gaza are thought to be the work of rebel groups who are trying to provoke Israel into military action. Hamas is fighting to stop the rebel groups, to avoid starting another war with Israel — at least until they decide they’re ready for one.

So for now, while Hamas continues to dig tunnels into Israel in preparation of war, it is working on preventing other terror groups from attacking Israel. Go figure.

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Chemicals Discovered
Israeli Customs officials discovered and confiscated four tons of ammonium chloride while inspecting a shipment of 40 tons of salt bound for the Gaza Strip. The chemical could be used by terrorists to produce propellant for hundreds of long range rockets. The Shin Bet tipped off the customs officials to the massive salt shipment, since salt is commonly used to hide chemicals being smuggled into Gaza.

Cooperation between customs authorities and the Shin Bet has led to the foiling of dozens of attempts to smuggle large quantities of banned substances that would have been used by terrorists to produce weapons.

Keep up the good work!

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NATO Office
Israel has been trying for years to open offices in NATO headquarters in Brussels, but it has been blocked in its efforts by Turkey, which has consistently exercised its veto power. According to NATO’s rules for collaborating with unaffiliated countries, unanimous consent of its member nations is necessary.

Yesterday, Turkey removed its veto. The decision is being interpreted as another gesture in Turkey’s move towards reconciliation with Israel after years of sanctions and opposition since the Gaza flotilla incident in 2010. Heavy pressure from the US and other countries probably helped Turkey soften its position as well.

Israel will now be allowed to strengthen ties with NATO as well as participate in joint projects and military exercises.

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Trump Wins
With his victory in Indiana yesterday and the exiting of Ted Cruz from the race, it looks like Donald Trump will be the Republican Presidential nominee. Based on his recent statements relating to Israel, that seems to be good news for Israel.

In a recent interview with the British Daily Mail, Trump supported continued settlement expansion and expressed his firm belief in Israel’s right to protect itself from its enemies however it sees fit to do so. Trump also called Netanyahu “a very good guy” and said, “I don’t know him that well, but I think I’d have a very good relationship with him.” He added, “I think that President Obama has been extremely bad to Israel. And I don’t even understand where – I have Jewish friends that support Obama. I tell them all the time, I say, ‘What are you doing? The Iran deal is a disaster for Israel’.”

So if you’re in favor of the current Israeli government and its Right leaning philosophy and policies, and if you are planning to base your decision primarily on the candidate’s policy relating to Israel … hey, it’s your choice.

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