Hamas Is Building a Second Front Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Hamas Is Building a Second Front Against Israel in Lebanon

Lebanese army take cover behind shields as they deploy during a protest after Lebanese Prime Minister-Designate Saad al-Hariri abandoned his effort to form a new government, in Beirut, Lebanon July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

In recent days, a senior Iranian military commander boasted that his country has built “six armies outside its borders that work for it.”

What the officer did not say, however, is that one of these terror armies — Hamas — is busy building a second front against Israel in Lebanon, and that it is trampling on Hezbollah’s toes in the process. While Hezbollah monitors Hamas’ activities in Lebanon, this is not always sufficient to control its activities.

Maj. (res.) Tal Beeri, director of the research department at the Alma Research and Education Center, which sheds light on security threats to Israel emanating from Syria and Lebanon, is preparing a major investigative report into Hamas’ presence in Lebanon — and his findings are surprising.

The report, which is scheduled to be released later this month, identifies Hamas’ working plans, senior military operatives, and the location of some key Hamas sites on Lebanese territory. It also analyzes the significance of this activity in regard to Sunni Hamas’ relationship to the radical Shiite axis that is led by Iran.

“Hamas’ activities in Lebanon, like those of Hezbollah, can be divided along two central axes,” Beeri, who served for 20 years in the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “The first is the political-civilian sphere, and the second is the military-terrorist area.”

The danger posed by Hamas in the West Bank made headlines last week, when the IDF conducted a series of preemptive counter-terrorism raids in multiple locations to disrupt what Israeli officials described as a major Hamas terrorist plot for Jerusalem. Several Palestinian gunmen, including three Hamas members, were killed in exchanges of fire with Israeli forces, and significant quantities of explosives were seized in the raids. It would be safe to bet that Saleh Al-Arouri, the head of the Hamas “West Bank portfolio,” had a hand in the plot, Beeri said.

Al-Arouri resided in Turkey under its sympathetic Islamist government until President Erdogan was compelled to ejecthim in 2015, as part of an unsuccessful US-led attempt to end the diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel. Al-Arouri moved to Qatar until Doha also “requested” his departure in 2017, in the midst of a crisis with its Gulf neighbors. After spending a little time in Malaysia, he settled down in Lebanon, and helped set up a significant Lebanese Hamas headquarters, staffed with senior members.

Yet Hamas in Lebanon is not just orchestrating terrorism in the West Bank, Beeri said; it is also shaping an offensive force in Lebanon itself.

Hamas has two Lebanese units that can be activated: The El-Shimali Unit and the Khaled Ali Unit.

“Each one has hundreds of operatives,” he said. “They both deal in recruitment, training, and specialized qualification courses, such as sniping, operating anti-tank missile launchers, drone operators, urban warfare, and tactical intelligence collection.”

Both of these units develop and manufacture weapons in Lebanon, particularly rockets and drones, as well as small unmanned submarines. With Lebanon’s sizeable Palestinian population, the units have “fertile grounds” for recruiting.

In 2018, senior Israeli officials, such as former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, warned that Hamas was trying to build a second front against Israel from southern Lebanon, and that it was building a new terrorist infrastructure for that purpose.

“For around a decade, Hamas has been building a very serious military infrastructure in Lebanon, which will provide them with back-up operational options against Israel in addition to Gaza,” Beeri warned. “The Lebanese front will allow Hamas to manage combat against Israel from two sectors, creating a certain attention problem for Israel.”

Recent months provided clear demonstrations of the role Hamas envisions for its Lebanese operations.

There were five separate rocket attacks out of Lebanon against Israel between May and August. “The likelihood that Hamas was behind all of these attacks is very high,” said Beeri.

Early warning signs of this activity stretch all the way back to 2014, during Israel’s 51-day war with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Hamas operatives fired rockets at Israel from Lebanon too, but the Israeli public was busy with Gazan rocket attacks and did not take much notice.

But Beeri stressed that it is not only Israel that cannot trivialize this development; Hezbollah too cannot afford to turn a blind eye, as the potential repercussions of Hamas’ activities could be severe.

On the surface, Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni Hamas display a common interest in fighting Israel, despite sectarian-ideological gaps between them. But despite the cooperation and the rhetoric, Hezbollah has good reason to be disturbed by what Hamas is doing in its backyard. “Hamas’s buildup of force could pose a true threat to Hezbollah and its status — in Lebanon and the wider Arab world,” said Beeri.

This is due to the fact that Hamas could drag Israel into a wider war in Lebanon, with Hezbollah having no control over the escalation, yet having to face Israeli firepower.

Hezbollah is extremely busy dealing with Lebanon’s multiple crises, and taking advantage of them to increase its power. It is not in its interest to enter into a war with Israel at this time — although this is true for now, and could change from one day to the next.

Thus, despite the declarative unity and common goal of “defending Palestine and Jerusalem,” tension is growing between Hamas, which markets itself as the defender of all Palestinians, and Hezbollah, which presents itself as the defender of the Lebanese people, Beeri noted.

In 2012, when Egypt was ruled by the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Hamas felt that it had finally secured its natural state sponsor and ideal “mother ship.” A year later, when Morsi was overthrown together with his Muslim Brotherhood government, Hamas did not rush back into Iran’s hands, staying “neutral” for a considerable period of time, said Beeri.

The fact that Hamas actively supported Palestinian rebels against the Assad regime in the Al Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus during the Syrian civil war only contributed to tensions, he added.

Tensions reached a boiling point in 2013, when Hezbollah ceased all Hamas activity in Lebanon. In that same year, said Beeri, a Hamas operative fired Grad rockets at Hezbollah’s Dahiya south Beirut heartland, due to tensions over the Syrian civil war and Hezbollah’s key role in supporting the Assad regime.

But none of this tension disrupted the flourishing of military-terrorist cooperation that developed over the years between the Iranian axis and Hamas in Gaza, he added.

Hamas and the Assad regime never completed a reconciliation process, but Iran “is still hugging Hamas despite its zigzags,” said Beeri. “This support extends to Hamas in Lebanon. The military force build-up of Hamas in Gaza and Lebanon has not been harmed by these changes in relations. Hamas continues to receive funding, weapons know-how, and battle doctrine assistance from Iran.”

That should come as no consolation to Hezbollah, which now must deal with Hamas as “an independent entity” in its own heartland.

As for Israel, Beeri said, Jerusalem should adopt a new paradigm and begin dealing with Hamas as a single entity, rather than accepting the division between its Gazan and Lebanese components.

Says Beeri, “Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah is unlikely to rush to start a war if Israel hits Hamas sites and assets precisely in Lebanon.”

Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) Senior Fellow Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the military correspondent for JNS. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence. A version of this article was originally published by IPT.

Gaza students displaced outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

During Israel’s deadly May attack on Gaza, at least 51 educational facilities were severely damaged [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
During Israel’s deadly May attack on Gaza, at least 51 educational facilities were severely damaged [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

4,000 Gaza students displaced after Israel attacks

After being hit by Israeli air strikes, two UN schools had to relocate thousands of students to other facilities.

20 Aug 2021

While children around the world check their school supplies list and prepare to attend classes, 4,000 Palestinian students are caught up in uncertainty.

They do not know when – or if – they will be able to return to their familiar hallways and classrooms.

Despite their worries, like all pupils in Gaza, they began the academic year on August 16. However, classes took place in different schools, as their original educational facilities remain under investigation.

The chain of events started in May as an Israeli air strike damaged two, side-by-side, United Nations schools in the neighbourhood of Zeitoun, Gaza: the Preparatory Boys’ School “A” and the Elementary Boys’ School “A”. Both operate under the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Two weeks after a ceasefire, while assessing the damage and how to safeguard the premises from missiles, UN personnel found a cavity 7.5 metres in depth. And, from there, things quickly escalated.

Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, has acknowledged building a network of tunnels under the Gaza Strip for military purposes, but has not officially commented about the controversy surrounding these specific UN schools.

Last week, in order to verify whether the schools were safe to open for the academic year, a group from the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) tried to conduct a follow-up risk assessment of the structures.

Local police prevented the expert team from operating.

“Then we spoke to them [Palestinan authorities] again and the excavations are supposed to start again this week,” a spokesperson for UNRWA told Al Jazeera.

“UNRWA condemns the existence and potential use by Palestinian armed groups of such tunnels underneath its schools in the strongest possible terms”, noted a UNRWA statement. “UNRWA installations are inviolable, and their neutrality must be respected at all times.”

The UNRWA spokesperson said “the situation is being resolved”. For now, the students are attending other UNRWA schools, in different shifts, while they wait for clearance and are allowed to, hopefully, return to the schools they are familiar with.

Education in Gaza

With 278 schools across the strip and nearly 10,000 people serving as teaching personnel, UNRWA is responsible for the basic education of more than 290,000 Palestinian students.

Because of the shortage of facilities, some UNRWA schools operate on double and, more rarely, even triple shifts.

During Israel’s latest attack on Gaza, at least 51 educational facilities were damaged, including a UNRWA training centre, 46 schools, two kindergartens and parts of the Islamic University of Gaza.

“To be a child in Gaza today means that you have inevitably witnessed a level of trauma that your peers elsewhere in the world have not,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini in early July.

In a report issued in the same month, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said 91 percent of Gaza children suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the 11-day Israeli offensive in May.

According to the report, the recent Israeli attack had a huge effect on children: 41 lost one or both parents, almost 50,000 had their homes partially or completely destroyed, and thousands remain displaced.

With odds against them, there are still additional challenges for the students of Gaza. The delicate economic situation increases the risk of student dropout, as it puts pressure on children, particularly boys, to help support their households with additional income and leaves some families unable to pay for transportation or school materials.

Online classes

In a conflict where both sides are accused of war crimes, schools need a backup plan. In 2012, UNRWA launched UNRWA TV – a response to emergency situations in Gaza and Syria.

The YouTube channel provides self-learning supplements for students, teachers and families in emergencies who have limited or disrupted access to formal education.

Today, almost one decade later, the channel has more than one million subscribers, some 260 million views, and an average of 150,000 visitors a day.

For people who have access to the internet, it ensures that children can continue to learn in unstable areas and in conflict and post-conflict settings.

Psychological rehabilitation

Considering everything that Palestinian pupils need to go through, the education ministry in Palestine has a psychosocial support (PSS) programme for students.

It assists educators in helping children overcome, mentally and psychologically, the aftermath of conflict. A recent example of its efforts could be seen in the summer camps launched in early June.

In 150 centres across Gaza and with more than 50,000 students enrolled, the camps provided primary school students with knowledge, entertainment, emotional release and workshops related to Palestinian identity.

The financial support to establish the camps came from the ministry’s local and international partners and amounted to about $100,000. A high price. However, as the Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh stated: “No matter how high the cost of education is, the cost of ignorance is much higher.”

Engaged in educational activities, children so often betrayed by authorities, conflict and circumstance can at least try to find solace in one place: their minds.

Israeli Soldiers Invade Palestinian Farmlands Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israeli Soldiers Invade Palestinian Farmlands In Central Gaza

On Tuesday, Several Israeli tanks and bulldozers invaded Palestinian farmlands east of Deir al-Balah city, in central Gaza, and bulldozed sections close to the perimeter fence.

Media sources said the Israeli tanks, and bulldozers, came from the Kissufim military base, across the fence, southeast of Deir al-Balah, and advanced dozens of meters into the Palestinian lands.

They added that the tanks fired many live rounds and smoke bombs during the invasion, and while bulldozing the lands and installing sandhills. Army surveillance drones were also flying over the area.

The invasion is one of the constant violations against the besieged Gaza Strip, and include attacks targeting workers, farmers, and fishermen.

Hamas Wants Calm, But the Situation outside the Temple Walls Is Volatile: Revelation 11

Hamas Wants Calm, But the Situation in Gaza Is Volatile

A Palestinian police officer stands outside the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Aug. 11, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

JNS.org – Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza just marked two noteworthy dates. The first was the 25th anniversary of the death of Fathi Shkaki, the terrorist group’s leader, who was assassinated in Malta; and the second was marking three years since 10 of the group’s members were killed when Israel demolished a cross-border underground attack tunnel.a

These two dates came and went without incident. Another event, however, which will be commemorated next week, could be different: The first anniversary of the assassination of PIJ leader in Gaza, Baha Abu al-Ata. Despite its promises, PIJ still hasn’t avenged his death.

The organization’s leaders in Damascus are prodding their people in Gaza to fall in line with Hamas and prioritize calm over escalation with Israel. However, this moderate line isn’t accepted by all the group’s members, chief among them al-Ata loyalists. The Israel Defense Forces is preparing for them to possibly take action next week. Although PIJ’s leadership is trying to prevent this from happening — the terrorist who fired the most recent rocket two weeks ago, in contravention of orders, was apprehended and badly beaten — the authority it wields is only partial and cannot keep every terrorist in check or rocket on the ground.

In Israel, of course, officials prefer peace and quiet, but there are those who will view a PIJ attack as a window of opportunity: If recalcitrant operatives on the ground do something, it will be possible to act against the group (even if it means several days of hostilities). It’s also safe to assume that Hamas would want Israel to neutralize, on its behalf, those seeking to undermine stability in Gaza; by not responding to al-Ata’s assassination last year, Hamas showed it doesn’t particularly grieve over the removal of its adversaries from the chessboard, and certainly isn’t willing to risk its own critical interests for them.

November 11, 2020 7:04 am

The situation in Gaza has never been worse (which has been said, correctly, many times), with the coronavirus pandemic thrown into the mix with economic misery. If Gaza survived the first wave of the pandemic in impressive fashion — mainly due to sealing its borders — the current wave is hitting the enclave hard. Although the number of daily COVID-19 tests being conducted is low, the latest figures show a morbidity rate of over 10% and a growing number of patients in serious condition, to the point of testing the capacity of Gaza’s hospitals.

Add to this Gaza’s dire economic troubles, which the pandemic has exacerbated. Thousands of laborers who worked in Israel have been home for months now, and merchants too are forbidden from coming and going. This has meant another spike in unemployment and a significant drop in the purchasing power of Gazans, many of whom are struggling to buy even basic goods.

In Israel, officials are very concerned about this situation. The worry is that in its desperation, Hamas will abandon the path of calm and revert to the path of hostility. Hence Israel is working to advance a series of economic projects in Gaza. The idea is to accelerate employment and manufacturing over financial aid. The person appointed to manage this plan is Defense Ministry Director-General Maj. Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel, but thus far things have moved along slowly, both due to the constraints imposed by the coronavirus and Israel’s insistence on solving the issue of its captive and missing soldiers and civilians as a precondition for any other progress.

One thing that has been resolved, specifically, is the matter of Qatari aid to Gaza. The monthly payment was transferred to Gaza two months in advance this time ($27 million per month, of which $17 million is earmarked for aid and $10 million for purchasing fuel). Israeli officials, however, are working with the authorities in Doha to ensure similar aid for months to come in the hope that it facilitates a long-term calm that will allow the sides to discuss a more solid arrangement.

In Israel, officials don’t think the United Arab Emirates will help with the Gaza matter, at least not right now. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE has outlawed, and is a patron of Qatar — which is aligned with the UAE’s main regional foe, Iran.  Until this fight is settled (under the umbrella of the United States), the Emiratis aren’t likely to help Gaza, especially when doing so would come at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, which, despite Abu Dhabi’s unfavorable view of it, is still preferable to the Hamas alternative.

With that, Israeli officials are toying with the idea of the UAE replacing the United Nations’ Gaza-based refugee agency for the Palestinians (UNRWA), to which the US and other countries have frozen funding due to widespread corruption in the organization. The Americans also want the definition of refugee status to be reformed and could help establish an alternative mechanism that will sever Palestinian dependence on international aid and create other avenues to allow Gazans to make a dignified living.

These steps will wait until the US election is firmly decided. Gazans aren’t the only ones following the drama in America: The entire Middle East is holding its breath, particularly Iran. The prevailing belief is that any administration will seek a revised nuclear deal with Iran. The question is what type of deal it is. Israel wants to ensure that beyond just the nuclear issue, the deal also addresses Iran’s military build-up and support for terrorist groups (chief among them Hezbollah in Lebanon and armed groups in Gaza).

Under economic sanctions, Iran has reduced its aid to Hezbollah and PIJ by tens of percent. If they are lifted, this figure will significantly increase, immediately, and the results will be felt on the ground. Hamas too — which for now is only flirting with Iran — could devote itself to Iran in exchange for a permanent and stable source of revenue. For now, Hamas is keeping the radical axis at arm’s length and, as stated, prefers calm and non-escalation. We mustn’t extrapolate from this that Hamas has become a peaceful organization; the recently detected attack tunnel in Gaza indicates that Hamas is continuing to prepare for war and is examining ways to bypass the underground barrier Israel has built around Gaza.

This tunnel is extraordinary for several reasons. It was built far deeper underground than usual, perhaps to test the capabilities of Israel’s border barrier. The barrier — and the technology it incorporates — rose to the challenge admirably, although it’s doubtful Hamas will learn the lesson. It’s more reasonable to assume it will try again, in other sectors and in other ways.

For now, Hamas will try avoiding an escalation. Its directive in this regard is crystal clear, but the situation at ground level is still highly combustible. The anniversary of al-Ata’s death is just one possible ignition switch. Meanwhile, dozens of Hamas inmates contracted COVID-19 amid an outbreak at Gilboa Prison in Israel. In theory, none of these factors are enough to trigger an escalation, but compounded with the pandemic, the economic situation, and the frayed nerves of the terrorist operative on the ground in Gaza, we could soon find ourselves in a new fight with Gaza.

Yoav Limor is a veteran Israeli journalist and columnist for Israel Hayom.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Israeli Navy Shoots, Injures Two Palestinians outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israeli Navy Shoots, Injures Two Palestinians off Gaza Coast

The Israeli Navy shot and injured two Palestinian fishermen, on Saturday, off the northern coast of the besieged Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

Local fishermen committee said an Israeli navy ship opened fire with rubber-coated steel rounds at the fishing boat, injuring Mohamed al-Sultan, 26, and his 12 year old brother.

The two were sailing off the coast of Beit Lahia in the northern occupied Gaza Strip.

The Jerusalem Press described the wounds as mild, no further details were available.

The Israeli occupation state imposed a land, air, and sea blockade upon the coastal enclave in 2007, causing high rates of unemployment and poverty, resulting in the current humanitarian crisis.

Israeli navy ships regularly harass and open fire at Palestinian fishermen, sailing within the stipulated boundaries.

Israel to build new settlement outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel to build new settlement near Gaza

JERUSALEM

The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved the construction of a new settlement near the border with the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli Channel 12.

Ahead of the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the government will approve the building of a new settlement near Gaza.

“This is a great news for Israel, this is great news for the communities in the Gaza border area,” Netanyahu said.

Israeli daily Yediot Ahronoth reported that the new settlement will house around 500 families and it will be named as “Hanun”.

The Israeli government said it will allocate one million NIS ($ 296,000) for the development of the infrastructure in the new settlement, which will be within the area of Israel’s Sdot Negev Regional Council.

There was no comment from the Palestinian authorities on the report.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is regarded as occupied territory under international law, thus making all Jewish settlements there illegal.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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Israel’s Warships Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

The Israeli Navy’s New Sa’ar 6 Warships Are a Gamechanger

Israel has been known for its expertise in counter-insurgency and using hi-tech aircraft, like the F-35 jet, to confront enemies across the Middle East. Israel’s power was concentrated on land with its Israel Defense Forces investing in the best air defenses and new combat vehicles. Now that may be changing as Israel takes delivery of its new Sa’ar 6 corvette ships. These four new 2,000 ton vessels, which will be delivered from Germany over the next year, will give Israel new firepower at sea and the ability to protect its emerging gas fields off the coast.

In a recent statement the commander of the Israeli Navy, Maj. Gen. Eli Sharvit: Said that “the mission of defending Israel’s exclusive economic zone and strategic assets at sea is the primary security mission of the Israeli Navy. These assets are essential to the operational continuity of the State of Israel, and having the ability to protect them holds critical importance.” The gas exclusive economic zone stretches over an area twice the size of Israel. Gas fields off the coast, near Lebanon and Gaza, both could be threatened by missiles. Israel confronted a surprise missile threat like this in 2006 when Hezbollah targeted the INS Hanit.

More recently reports indicated Hezbollah may have access to the Russian-made Yakhont missile or a variant. The group already has stockpiled some 150,000 missiles and rockets with Iran’s support. It is also developing precision-guided munitions. The threat of missiles at sea is well known, especially after the Houthis targeted ships off the coast of Yemen and after militants in Gaza struck an Egyptian ship in 2015. Anti-ship missiles can pose a major threat to modern navies. During the Falklands war in 1982 Argentinian Dassault-Breguet Super Etendard planes air-launched Exocet missiles that struck several British ships. During the Iran-Iraq war in 1987, the USS Stark was hit by a missile as well.

For this reason, Israel is putting to sea advanced ships with stealth technology and the latest in Israel’s Adir phased array radar, as well as numerous interceptors designed to protect it from missile threats. Many of the combat systems on the Sa’ar 6 ships will be new or recent designs and more than ninety percent will come from Israel’s defense companies. For instance, Rafael Advanced Defense systems reportedly supplies the C-Gem offboard active decoy, which defends against missile threats. Elbit Systems electronic warfare suite will be incorporated along with IAI’s Barak missiles and the sea version of Israel’s Iron Dome. Israel has made rapid advances in all this technology over the last several years, attempting to keep up with the threats emerging from Iran and Hezbollah Lebanon. For instance, Israel announced it had tested a new ship-to-ship missile in September. The missile represented a partnership between IAI and Israel’s research and development division within the Ministry of Defense. At the time Israel said, “the new missile system offers enhanced offensive precision capabilities, has longer range, possesses improved offensive flexibility and is better equipped to engage advanced threats.”

On November 11, the Israeli Navy will receive the new ship but it will still be in Kiel in Germany where it was laid down at Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems. It will then sail to Israel. Israel’s navy says that “Upon the arrival of the corvette to Israel and after the operationalization and installation of battle systems, of which the vast majority are Israeli-designed systems, INS Magen will start its operational service in the Navy and will lead the defense of the Israeli economic exclusive zone and maritime strategic assets.”

The name of the ship and the program, “Magen,” comes from the Hebrew term for “shield.” This is because the ship is a shield for the gas platforms and off-shore infrastructure Israel is investing in. This will include a new gas pipeline to Cyprus and Greece, according to a recent agreement. It is also part of Israel’s increased role in the eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, which was established this summer. Israel is increasingly a naval ally of Egypt, Cyprus and Greece. As tensions have increased between Turkey and Greece, Ankara has also laid claim to rights to the Mediterranean stretching to Libya, which puts it astride the potential pipeline. An Israeli ship was harassed by the Turkish navy in December 2019 as Ankara pushed its demands in the Mediterranean. The IDF has assessed that Turkey could be a future challenge and reports in British media have indicated the Mossad also sees Turkey as an emerging threat.

This shift in naval strategy, although it is not tailored to relate to Turkey, gives Israel more eight at sea and a more relevant navy that can operate further from shore. Previously Israel relied on small patrol boats to deal with terror threats from Gaza, as well as a handful of missile boats. It also commissioned a half dozen submarines since the late 1990s. Now Israel will have fifteen surface vessels, the four Sa’ar 6 ships, three Sa’ar 5 ships and eight missile boats. The decision to build the Sa’ar 6 was made in 2013 and represents a major investment in the navy. The last time Israel put new surface ships to sea in such a build-up was in the 1990s. The Sa’ar 6 is supposed to be the backbone of the navy for thirty years. Combined with the Dolphin-class submarines, it will give the Israeli navy the latest technology for naval warfare.

Israel’s navy held a briefing and put out an explainer about the new ships in early November. The navy says that the ships will defend the gas fields up to several hundred kilometers offshore and that they can not only be on station at the rigs for a significant period of time but can also do other missions. “The ability to carry mid-size helicopters, such as the Seahawk: The new Seahawk helicopters that will be used by Sa’ar 6-Class Corvettes will be powerful, and able to operate over long ranges and extended periods of time. In this fashion, the ships will be able to provide a comprehensive defensive envelope.”

The understanding of the threat Israel faces has grown in recent years. Israel once had to confront convention armies, fighting the Soviet-armed Egyptians and Syrians in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1990s the threat shifted more to counter-insurgency. Now the threat has moved to what Israel calls the “third circle,” a term used for Iran. Israel incorporated this understanding into its new Momentum plan. That means Israel is reducing some of its older units, making its armored corps and infantry more “multi-dimensional” and relying on communications, artificial intelligence and algorithms to bring the most amount of information to frontline troops to give them more lethality in times of conflict. That is designed to land a knock-out blow on an enemy.

Israel is also training more with the United States using the F-35, of which Israel is acquiring at least fifty of the advanced aircraft for several squadrons. The goal of Israel’s current operations, called the Campaign Between the Wars, is to reduce the Iranian threat and Iranian entrenchment in Syria and prolong the period before the next war. At sea, that means dealing with potential missile threats from places like Lebanon. Only one missile getting through Israel’s defense net can harm the gas platforms. That necessitated ships of the type Israel is putting to sea, and also knitting them in to Israel’s advanced early warning systems on land. This means confronting “blue water” and “brown water” threats, at sea and closer to land.

Israel receives most of its trade from the sea. It’s two Mediterranean ports, Haifa and Ashon, now account for around 43 percent and 53 percent respectively, with the Red Sea port of Eilat taking in only four percent of the country’s trade. New relations with the UAE and new pipeline deals could change some of that situation. Changing Israel’s strategy meant assigning ships to the three gas fields and taking into consideration that one ship might always be at port or on other missions. It also means having better naval-air connectivity, and multiple layers of defense. This basically means extending the Iron Dome and David Sling and other defense system umbrellas to the sea.

Recent attacks by Iran, such as the drone and cruise missile swarm used to attack Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq in September 2019, point to the kinds of threats that Israel must consider. The Sa’ar 6 will have around 80 personnel on board and Israel is also hoping to have a quarter of the personnel on the new ships be female. In recent years, Israel’s navy increased the number of women in the service. It is thus a technological and societal leap for the country.

The ship was custom-designed so that it has the stealth capabilities and room to install the weapon systems Israel wants. This is an upgrade of existing corvette-class ship models. Many navies today are racing to put to sea better ships, especially as the naval arms race continues in the Pacific and elsewhere. Not all the plans for new types of ships, such as the American Zumwalt-class destroyers or the littoral combat ships like the USS Independence, have proven successful. Israel hopes its updates will be a model that does perform well.

Hamas wants calm in Gaza, but nations continue to trample outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Hamas wants calm in Gaza, but situation on the ground is volatile

On their own, several upcoming and ongoing events wouldn’t trigger an escalation, but compounded with the coronavirus, the economic situation and the frayed nerves of the terrorist operative on the ground in Gaza, and we could soon find ourselves in a fight with Gaza.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza this week marked two noteworthy dates. The first, the 25th anniversary of the death of Fathi Shkaki, the terrorist group’s leader who was assassinated in Malta; and the second date, marking three years since 10 of the group’s members were killed when Israel demolished a cross-border underground attack tunnel.

These two dates came and went without incident on the part of the terrorist organization. Another event, however, which will be commemorated next week, could be different: The first anniversary of the assassination of PIJ leader in Gaza, Baha Abu al-Ata. Despite its promises, PIJ still hasn’t avenged his death. Moreover, the organization’s leaders in Damascus are prodding their people in Gaza to fall in line with Hamas, and prioritize calm over escalation with Israel.

This moderate line isn’t accepted by all the group’s members, chief among them al-Ata loyalists. The IDF is preparing for them to possibly take action next week. Although PIJ’s leadership is trying to prevent this from happening – the terrorist who fired the most recent rocket two weeks ago, in contravention of orders, was apprehended and badly beaten – but the authority it wields is only partial and cannot keep every terrorist or rocket on the ground in check.

In Israel, of course, officials prefer the peace and quiet, but there are those will view a PIJ attack as a window of opportunity: If the recalcitrant operatives on the ground do something, it will be possible to act against the group (even if it means several days of hostilities). It’s also safe to assume that Hamas would want Israel to neutralize, on its behalf, those seeking to undermine stability in Gaza; by not responding to al-Ata’s assassination last year, Hamas showed it doesn’t particularly grieve over the removal of its adversaries from the chessboard, and certainly isn’t willing to risk its own critical interests for them.

Manufacturing over aid

The situation in Gaza has never been worse (which has been said many times and is always proven correct). Seemingly, the bottom of the barrel of poverty and despair is especially deep but has now sunk to new depths with the coronavirus thrown into the mix with economic misery. If Gaza survived the first wave of the pandemic in impressive fashion – mainly due to drastic steps of sealing its borders – the current wave is hitting the enclave hard. Although the number of daily tests is low, the latest figures show more than a 10% positivity rate and a growing number of patients in serious condition, to the point of testing the ability of Gaza’s hospitals to function.

Add to this Gaza’s dire economic troubles, which have been exacerbated even further. Thousands of laborers who worked in Israel have been home for months now, and merchants, too, are forbidden from coming and going. This has meant another spike in unemployment and a significant drop in the purchasing power of Gazans, many of whom are struggling to buy even basic goods.

Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu Al-Ata (center) (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

In Israel, officials are very concerned about this situation. The concern is that in its desperation, Hamas will abandon the path of calm and revert to the path of hostility. Hence Israel is working to advance a series of economic projects in Gaza. The idea is to accelerate employment and manufacturing over financial aid. The person appointed to manage this plan is Defense Ministry Director-General Maj. Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel, but thus far things have moved along slowly, both due to the constraints imposed by the coronavirus and Israel’s insistence on solving the issue of its captive and missing soldiers and civilians as a precondition for any other progress.

One thing that has been resolved, specifically, is the matter of Qatari aid to Gaza. The monthly payment was transferred to Gaza, two months in advance this time ($27 million per month, of which $17 million is earmarked for aid and $10 million for purchasing fuel). Israeli officials, however, are working with the authorities in Doha to ensure similar aid for months to come in the hope that it facilitates a long-term calm that will allow the sides to discuss a more solid arrangement.

In Israel, officials don’t think the United Arab Emirates will help with the Gaza matter, at least not right now. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE has outlawed, and is a patron of Qatar – which is aligned with the UAE’s main regional foe, Iran.  Until this fight is settled (under the umbrella of the United States), the Emiratis aren’t likely to help Gaza, especially when doing so would come at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, which, despite Abu Dhabi’s unfavorable view of it, is still preferable to the Hamas alternative.

With that, Israeli officials are toying with the idea of the UAE replacing the United Nations’ Gaza-based refugee agency for the Palestinians (UNRWA), to which the US and other countries have frozen funding due to widespread corruption in the organization. The Americans also want the definition of refugee status to be reformed and could help establish an alternative mechanism that will sever Palestinian dependence on international aid and create other avenues to allow Gazans to make a dignified living.

Will the flirtation lead to devotion?

These steps will wait until the US election is decided. Gazans aren’t the only ones following the drama in America: The entire Middle East is holding its breath, particularly Iran.

The prevailing belief is that any administration will seek a revised nuclear deal with Iran. The question is the type of deal with it is; Israel wants to ensure that beyond just the nuclear issue, the deal also addresses Iran’s military build-up and support for terrorist groups (chief among them Hezbollah in Lebanon and armed groups in Gaza).

An aerial view of the location of the Hamas tunnel detected two weeks ago (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Under economic sanctions, Iran has reduced its aid to Hezbollah and PIJ by tens of percent. If they are lifted, this figure will significantly increase, immediately, and the results will be felt on the ground. Hamas, too – which for now is only flirting with Iran – could devote itself to Iran for a permanent and stable source of revenue. For now, Hamas is keeping the radical-axis at arm’s length and, as stated, prefers calm and non-escalation. We mustn’t extrapolate from this that Hamas has become a peaceful organization: The recently detected attack tunnel in Gaza indicates that Hamas is continuing to prepare for war and is examining ways to bypass the underground barrier Israel has built around Gaza.

This tunnel is extraordinary for several reasons. It was built far deeper underground than usual, perhaps to infiltrate Israel underneath the barrier, and maybe to test the barrier’s capabilities. The barrier – and the technology it incorporates – rose to the challenge admirably, although it’s doubtful Hamas will learn the lesson. It’s more reasonable to assume it will try again, in other sectors and in other ways.

For now, Hamas will try avoiding an escalation. Its directive in this regard is crystal clear, but the ground level is still highly combustible. The anniversary of al-Ata’s death is one possible ignition switch; while the continued hunger strike of Maher Akhras – a PIJ activist from the West Bank being held under administrative detention – is also a matter of concern for the terrorist organization. Meanwhile, dozens of Hamas inmates contracted the coronavirus after an outbreak at Gilboa Prison in Israel. In theory, none of these factors are enough to trigger an escalation but compounded with the coronavirus, the economic situation and the frayed nerves of the terrorist operative on the ground in Gaza – we could soon find ourselves in a fight with Gaza for a few days.

Israel cleanses the nations outside the temple walls: Revelation 11

PCHR: “Wide-Scale Demolition Amounting to Ethnic Cleansing, Israeli Occupation Demolishes 70 Facilities in the Northern Valley Displacing 60 Palestinians”

The Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR): On Tuesday evening, 03 November 2020, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) carried out a large-scale demolition operation against civilian properties in Hemsa al-Foqa area in the northern Jordan valleys, eastern Tubas. Seventy homes and facilities were demolished, displacing 60 Palestinians (mostly children), in the 6-hour operation.

The demolitions were preceded by the confiscation of 16 vehicles and 5 water tanks in a nearby area in the valleys. Yesterday’s operation comes within an accelerated cam

paign by IOF to demolish and destroy Palestinians’ homes and properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, under the Israeli annexation and settlement-expansion schemes in what can only be considered an act of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian population.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 12:00 on Tuesday IOF, accompanied by Israeli Civil Administration SUVs and construction vehicles, moved into Kherbet Hemsa al-Foqa in the northern Jordan valleys, eastern Tubas.

The construction vehicles proceeded to demolish 70 civilian properties, including barracks and residential tents that sheltered 11 families (total 60 persons, mostly children). IOF demolished 11 residential tents, 27 barracks, some used for housing, and several barns, as well as, kitchens, mobile-lavatories, water tanks and other properties. IOF also confiscated two tractors and a private Subaru car.

Earlier on Tuesday, IOF moved into Khirbet Ibziq in northern Jordan valleys, eastern Tubas. The Israeli soldiers raided civilians’ houses and confiscated the following items: 9 tractors, 5 water tanks, 5 carts and 2 private vehicles. IOF aims at vacating the area and expelling its indigenous residents.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemns the Israeli demolitions and confiscation of Palestinian properties and warns against the threat of the continued Israeli attempts to displace Palestinians and out them from their lands by destroying their houses and confiscating/demolishing their properties. This is an Israeli systematic policy to impose a fait accompli to enforce its control and sovereignty on parts of the West Bank.

PCHR recalls that Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 prohibits “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons ..” unless “the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.” Additionally, Article 7.1.d of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court stipulates that “Deportation or forcible transfer of population when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population is a crime against humanity.” Also, Article 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute assert that “Deportation or forcible transfer of population” is a war crime.

PCHR calls upon the international community and United Nations bodies to uphold their legal and moral duties and to urgently intervene to stop the Israeli occupation’s crime against Palestinians and to guarantee their protection.

For more information, please call the PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 – 2825893

Gaza- Jamal ‘Abdel Nasser “al-Thalathini” Street – Al-Roya Building- Floor 12, El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail: pchr@pchrgaza.org, Webpage http://www.pchrgaza.org

Israel Displaces More Palestinians Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

PCHR: “Wide-Scale Demolition Amounting to Ethnic Cleansing, Israeli Occupation Demolishes 70 Facilities in the Northern Valley Displacing 60 Palestinians”

The Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR): On Tuesday evening, 03 November 2020, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) carried out a large-scale demolition operation against civilian properties in Hemsa al-Foqa area in the northern Jordan valleys, eastern Tubas. Seventy homes and facilities were demolished, displacing 60 Palestinians (mostly children), in the 6-hour operation.

The demolitions were preceded by the confiscation of 16 vehicles and 5 water tanks in a nearby area in the valleys. Yesterday’s operation comes within an accelerated campaign by IOF to demolish and destroy Palestinians’ homes and properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, under the Israeli annexation and settlement-expansion schemes in what can only be considered an act of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian population.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 12:00 on Tuesday IOF, accompanied by Israeli Civil Administration SUVs and construction vehicles, moved into Kherbet Hemsa al-Foqa in the northern Jordan valleys, eastern Tubas.

The construction vehicles proceeded to demolish 70 civilian properties, including barracks and residential tents that sheltered 11 families (total 60 persons, mostly children). IOF demolished 11 residential tents, 27 barracks, some used for housing, and several barns, as well as, kitchens, mobile-lavatories, water tanks and other properties. IOF also confiscated two tractors and a private Subaru car.

Earlier on Tuesday, IOF moved into Khirbet Ibziq in northern Jordan valleys, eastern Tubas. The Israeli soldiers raided civilians’ houses and confiscated the following items: 9 tractors, 5 water tanks, 5 carts and 2 private vehicles. IOF aims at vacating the area and expelling its indigenous residents.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemns the Israeli demolitions and confiscation of Palestinian properties and warns against the threat of the continued Israeli attempts to displace Palestinians and out them from their lands by destroying their houses and confiscating/demolishing their properties. This is an Israeli systematic policy to impose a fait accompli to enforce its control and sovereignty on parts of the West Bank.

PCHR recalls that Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 prohibits “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons ..” unless “the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.” Additionally, Article 7.1.d of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court stipulates that “Deportation or forcible transfer of population when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population is a crime against humanity.” Also, Article 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute assert that “Deportation or forcible transfer of population” is a war crime.

PCHR calls upon the international community and United Nations bodies to uphold their legal and moral duties and to urgently intervene to stop the Israeli occupation’s crime against Palestinians and to guarantee their protection.

For more information, please call the PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 – 2825893

Gaza- Jamal ‘Abdel Nasser “al-Thalathini” Street – Al-Roya Building- Floor 12, El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail: pchr@pchrgaza.org, Webpage http://www.pchrgaza.org