Israel Raids Students Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel raids Hebron camp as pro-Gaza protests held

Israeli forces raid Al-Arroub refugee camp in Hebron to crackdown on a student march which condemned the Israeli aggression on Gaza on 13 November 2019 [ShehabAgency/Twitter]

November 14, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Scores of Israeli occupation soldiers raided Al-Arroub refugee camp in the north of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, Safa news agency reported yesterday.

According to Palestinian news site, Israeli forces raided the refugee camp in order to crackdown on a student march which condemned the Israeli aggression on Gaza and the murder of refugee Omar Al-Badawi in Hebron’s Al-Fawwar refugee camp two days ago.

The Israeli occupation forces opened fire at the Palestinian refugees and threw sound and gas grenades at them, causing several cases of suffocation.

On Monday, the Israeli occupation forces killed Al-Badawi, 23, after targeting him with a live bullet and preventing paramedics from reaching him.

Al-Badawi, the Red Crescent said, was bleeding for about half an hour before a group of Palestinian youths reached him and took him for treatment.

The Trampling Underfoot Continues Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Rakan Abed El Rahman

Deadly bone infections threaten lives of Gaza protest participants

At least 5,800 of casualties were hit by live ammunition during protests [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 October, 2019

Over 1,200 people shot in the lower limbs while protesting in weekly demonstrations in Gaza now require specialised medical treatment, including hundreds who have contracted serious bone infections.

Fouad Abu Libda, 23, has been confined for six weeks to an isolation room at Gaza’s Dar El Salam’s Hospital, in the southern city of Khan Younis.

Only when he dons a gown and mask can he leave his cubicle, so afraid are his doctors that he will be assailed by a germ that will take down his already-compromised immune system.

“I feel like I am in prison; every move I make is monitored,” says Abu Libda. “All I hear is, ‘do not move, do not touch this before we sterilise it.’ And when my family visits me, doctors make everyone wear and gowns and gloves. I feel like a pariah.”

Abu Libda was shot by an Israeli sniper on July 12, when he tried to rescue a wounded child in the Friday Great Return March protests by the border. The explosive bullet shattered the bones in his left leg, and now, a chronic infection has set in – a phenomenon all too common for the doctors who work for Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans Frontieres, or MSF).

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, over 1,200 people who have been shot in the lower limbs while protesting in the weekly demonstrations now require specialised medical treatment, including around 600 who have contracted serious bone infections (osteomyelitis).

“We cannot deal with this high number of cases,” says MSF’s Mohamed Abu Mghasib. “There is a serious shortage of isolation chambers, which means we can take just 17 at a time and every patient diagnosed with bone infection needs to stay at least six weeks. About 200 are on a waiting list right now. They likely will lose their legs.”

Of the more than 10,500 protesters treated at hospitals and field clinics in Gaza since the weekly protests launched March 30, 2018, roughly 60 percent have been struck in the lower limbs, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

At least 5,800 of those casualties were hit by live ammunition; others have been hit by rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters.

Infection sets in when a dirty, foreign body like a bullet breaks through the skin and bones. Because the injuries often stay exposed to the environment for a long time before they are properly treated, the risk of infection is high.

“These infections also are often resistant to the antibiotics commonly used,” says Abu Mghasib. “Most of the patients we receive require up to three types of antibiotics a day.”

The challenge is that alternative antibiotics are more expensive and cause onerous side-effects.

For example, Fouad’s liver enzymes now have shot up due to the large dose of antibiotics, and now, he faces potentially weeks more in isolation.

In the room next to Fouad is Abdullah Jindia, 12. He was shot with two bullets on September 6, also while participating in the Great Return March. One bullet penetrated his left leg and a second hit right, causing a fracture and a shortage in that leg of 15 cm (6 inches). He, too, developed a chronic bone infection and has been in an isolation for four days.

“A child cannot stay in one room for six weeks,” says Amar Jindia, Abdullah’s father. “Because he is so young, the doctors have allowed me to join him. I am trying my best to encourage my son as he endures this long period alone. We play games together and I brought his schoolbooks.”

MSF also has hired psychologists to help patients cope.

Dina Nasser, lead infection control nurse at Augusta Victoria hospital in East Jerusalem who has also worked in Gaza, told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, “This is a global health security issue because multi-drug resistant organisms don’t know any boundaries. That’s why the global community, even if it’s not interested in the politics of Gaza, should be interested in this.”

Healthy people can carry the bacteria without showing any symptoms, so doctors and aid workers travelling in and out of Gaza could carry these superbugs to other countries.

Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah, who studies conflict medicine at the American University of Beirut Medical Center and travelled to Gaza in May, told the bureau, “The untreated sewage from Gaza containing multi-drug resistant bacteria goes into the aquifer,” which also supplies Egypt and Israel.

All the “superbugs” on the World Health Organization’s list of priority bacteria – those which pose the greatest threat to human health – have been reported in Palestine.

The challenges are even more life-threatening when no medications at all are available. The Palestinian Health Ministry reports a 40-50 percent shortage of medicines in Gaza due to the Israeli blockade.

Moreover, these patients need multiple reconstructive surgeries after infection is controlled. Some patients have required more than 30 operations. But Gaza’s hospitals are short on operating rooms and properly trained specialists.

“Unfortunately, the number of specialist doctors who can perform these surgeries does not exceed the number of fingers on my hand,” says Abu Mghasib. “We have been able to transfer 15 complicated cases to the MSF hospital in Jordan, but there are more than 600 needing this advanced care.”

One positive development is that, in coordination with Gaza’s health ministry, MSF has set up the first and only laboratory in the strip in order capable of analysing bone samples for infection.

“This process allows us to know which antibiotics will work. We take three to five bones samples from every patient. But the capacity of this laboratory is just 100 samples a month,” explains Abu Mghasib. “Bone infection has become an epidemic in Gaza.”

Rakan Abed El Rahman is a Gaza-based writer for WeAreNotNumbers.org. He was assisted in writing this piece by Pam Bailey, project founder.

The War Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Deputy DM Dichter to ‘Post’: We need war to wipe out Gaza terror

By LAHAV HARKOV

The only way to put an end to the repeated rounds of rocket fire and IDF retaliation is to go to war in Gaza, and that would be impossible with a government dependent on Arab MKs, Deputy Defense Minister Avi Dichter said on Thursday.

Dichter declared Operation Black Belt a success, but warned in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that there will likely be more terrorist attacks from Gaza in the near future.

Dichter said assassinations like the targeted killing of senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata are a means, not an end, because there are thousands of terrorists in Gaza and possibly hundreds of officers.

“When you’re dealing with terrorism at such a large scope, you have to think what will bring quiet and what will bring more violence,” he explained.

To bring quiet, Dichter said, there is no realistic diplomatic solution on the horizon.

Ceasefire agreement reached between Israel, Islamic Jihad – report

“Israel’s political and military leadership need to decide at a certain point to launch a campaign that will destroy the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza,” he said. “That won’t take a week or a month. That will be a long time. We saw in Operation Defensive Shield” – which started in 2002 in response to the Second Intifada – “that it took three years. When it is the optimal time, we will embark on such a campaign that will be the First Gaza War – and the last one.”

The optimal time, according to Dichter, is when there is a stable government that can look ahead to the coming years.

“I hope there will be a unity government,” he said. “God forbid that we have a minority government leaning on the Arab List. Then we won’t be able to do almost anything.”

One of the options Blue and White leader Benny Gantz has in trying to form a governing coalition is a minority government, with outside support from the Joint List. Such a government would be hard-pressed to last past March, the last deadline to pass a budget, because it would not have a majority in the Knesset. There is strong opposition to a minority government within Blue and White, and the Joint List’s rhetoric against the IDF and Gantz, who supported Operation Black Belt, may have killed the option.

The operation had narrower aims than eradicating all terrorism from Gaza, Dichter explained.

“We judge an operation based on the goals at the start,” he said. “Ours were clear. The first was to kill al-Ata, an arch-terrorist. After that, we thought there would be an exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza – maybe not only Gaza – so we wanted to make it as short as possible and not let it develop into a campaign. And [the third goal was] to isolate Hamas, so that they will not enter the fray as well. These three were achieved.”

At the same time, Dichter said he realizes that for Israelis, especially residents of the South like himself, the two days of the operation were very difficult.

Al-Ata’s assassination was necessary in order to create a deterrent against PIJ attacking Israel, Dichter explained, because the deterrence had weakened. The PIJ commander had a “volatile policy” that neither Israel nor Hamas was able to understand, but Israel was the one paying the price in rocket attacks.

Al-Ata planned rocket attacks and all the attempts to prevent them didn’t succeed, so we had to take them out,” Dichter said. “We had to make sure PIJ would understand that they can’t shoot at Israel whenever they want.”

Israel shifted from its usual policy of holding Hamas responsible for any terrorist activity in Gaza because security officials determined that PIJ was not deterred by Israel attacking Hamas targets. That Hamas stayed out of the fighting this week shows that Israel has strongly deterred the terrorist organization controlling Gaza, he added.

Dichter contrasted Israel’s efforts to avoid civilian populations with PIJ, which specifically targets civilians.

“We finished this round with zero killed and very few lightly injured…but when you look at the expectations of the other side, what PIJ wanted, they wanted blood and death here in Israel. They shot over 400 rockets to kill Israelis,” he said.

Unlike the IDF, PIJ did not have specific targets; they sought to strike cities and people randomly, Dichter explained, whereas the IDF and Shin Bet hit al-Ata “right in the head of the terrorist, with zero harm to anyone uninvolved.”

Confronted with al-Ata’s wife also being killed – something that Joint List MKs have brought up in their criticism of the operation – Dichter said the wife aided him in his terrorism, and the IDF and Shin Bet knew she would be there.

“We shoot very heavy artillery,” he said. “It is deadly, but accurate. Our pilots and others shoot only at terrorists. Those are their orders. No one thinks to give a pilot an order to bomb a city. There never was and never will be an order like this.”

Asked if there is any hope for the residents of Israel’s south, the Ashkelon resident said he would like them to be able to live with a sense of security, but people must also be realistic about the Middle East.

“Sometimes the threat is in the South, sometimes it is in Judea and Samaria, sometimes there are rockets, sometimes there are suicide bombers,” Dichter said. “We live in an area with a variety of threats in different places each time. We need a different strategy on every front…When we’re talking about Gaza, it requires us to create a deterrence against those who can shoot rockets and carry out other terrorist attacks on Israel and Israelis, and make them realize it doesn’t pay off,” he stated, saying the last phrase in English.

Still, Dichter said, “We can’t fool ourselves and say after a two-day round, that’s the end of it, Gaza will be peaceful for 40 years. We can’t say that to the residents.”

Added the deputy defense minister: “I tip my hat to the residents” who followed the Home Front Command’s instructions and stayed relatively safe.

Babylon the Great’s Cost For War

A crew chief overlooks the vast mountain ranges of Southeastern Afghanistan while a CH-47 Chinook assigned to the 1st Armored Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade is in flight during an advise and assistance mission Oct. 9, 2019. (Army photo by Master Sgt. Alejandro Licea)

Post-9/11 Wars Have Cost American Taxpayers $6.4 trillion, Study Finds

14 Nov 2019

Stars and Stripes | By Corey Dickstein

WASHINGTON — American taxpayers have spent $6.4 trillion in nearly two decades of post-9/11 wars, which have killed some 800,000 people worldwide, the Cost of Wars Project announced Wednesday.

The numbers reflect the toll of American combat and other military operations across 80 nations since al-Qaida operatives attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington in 2001, launching the United States into its longest-ever wars aimed at stamping out terrorism worldwide.

The annual spending estimates released Wednesday show a general decline in war costs in 2019 as U.S. troops face less combat in major war zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Still, the estimated price tag for those wars increased by $500 billion since November 2018, and it has doubled since the Cost of Wars Project — a product of Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs and Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee Center — first looked at cumulative wartime costs in 2011.

Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised the workers involved in the project — 35 scholars, legal experts, human rights practitioners and physicians.

“The budget of the Pentagon is difficult to weed through is an understatement,” Reed said. “My hope is that this report will continue to inform, educate and serve as a resource as we consider these wars going forward … to give us a better sense of the costs of wars not in a snapshot, but the long-term costs. This should be for us [in Congress] a guide to our policies, our procedures and actions going forward.”

The actual monetary and human costs of these wars is difficult to discern, said Neta Crawford, the report’s author and a Boston University political science professor, who blasted the lack of budget transparency of federal institutions including the Pentagon and departments of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.

In recent years, Crawford asserted those institutions have made accessing information on how they spend taxpayer dollars more difficult, including where money is being spent overseas because items that were once reported are now “disappearing from the budget.”

She argued Wednesday that without proper accounting, the American public cannot shape informed opinions on the courses of these wars, which are generally viewed as “winding down” but continue to cost thousands of lives in 2019.

The Pentagon’s share of the spending includes the nearly $2 trillion since 2001 in overseas contingency operations funds, the wartime spending coffers used to fund most operations in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The Defense Department has added more than $900 billion to its base budgets since those operations began, which it likely would not have needed in peacetime, Crawford said.

But the project’s cost estimates consider not only Pentagon wartime spending, but also about $1 trillion in spending on homeland anti-terrorism measures, $131 billion for State Department wartime spending, $437 billion for veterans care through fiscal 2020 and $925 billion of interest payments that the United States will pay on money borrowed to fund those operations. It also includes a projected price tag of more than $1 trillion in future spending on medical care through fiscal 2059 for the men and women who have fought these wars, which is anticipated to grow further, even if the wars were to end in the next year.

“That’s a very rough estimate,” Crawford said. “I think it’s low balling, honestly.”

The costs of America’s post-9/11 wars include not only money but the loss of lives, which the report estimated to have exceeded 800,000 people. That tally includes combatants and noncombatants in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

The report outlines the toll on Americans. Since operations were launched in Afghanistan in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, 7,014 U.S. service members have died in American wars, 22 Pentagon civilians have been killed, and 7,950 U.S. contractors have died.

Other deaths include more than 12,000 deaths among U.S. allied troops, 173,000 deaths in the ranks of national military and police forces, nearly 300,000 enemy fighters killed and more than 310,000 civilian deaths.

Those tallies remain largely incomplete, Crawford said, estimating civilian deaths in war zones where Americans have operated could be twice those reported, but were impossible to verify.

She urged better transparency from the Pentagon — and other federal institutions — on budget decisions and ongoing operations in the wars.

“There’s a lot of blood and treasure spent, but we’re not sure if [the wars] are successful,” Crawford said, highlighting recent Pentagon estimates of number of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan that show similar strength as it held in 2001 and estimates of Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria that show the group might still boast 35,000 to 100,000 fighters following its loss of territory earlier this year.

“So how successful is the strategy and how successful could it be?” she asked. “… We can’t assess in some instances what those answers are.”

War Continues Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Palestinians gathered on Wednesday around the remains of a house destroyed by an Israeli airstrike.

Credit…

Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Exchanges of Fire Continue Across Israel-Gaza Border

A clash set off by Israel’s killing of an Islamic Jihad commander teetered between containment and escalation into a broader conflict.

By Isabel Kershner and Iyad Abuheweila

Nov. 13, 2019
Updated 6:25 p.m. ET

JERUSALEM — Gaza militants continued to bombard southern Israel with rockets on Wednesday and Israeli forces struck back against targets in the Palestinian coastal enclave in a clash set off by Israel’s assassination of a senior Islamic Jihad commander on Tuesday.

Though the death toll rose in Gaza and much of southern Israel was paralyzed by air-raid warnings, both sides appeared to be carefully measuring their actions.

After a quiet night and a resumption of hostilities early Wednesday, Israel and Gaza teetered between a quick resolution to this round of violence and a possible escalation — either intentional or through a misstep — that could lead to a much broader conflict.

In a speech on Wednesday night, Ziad al-Nakhala, the secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, said that Israel was seeking a cease-fire and he laid out his group’s conditions for one, including an end to Israel’s targeted killings and a commitment to previous understandings on easing the blockade on Gaza.

By midnight, the death toll in Gaza over the two days of violence had risen to at least 26, according to Palestinian health officials, including several civilians. Palestinian officials said more than 80 people had been wounded. The Israeli military put the number of militants killed at about 20.

Iron Dome missiles intercepted a rocket on Wednesday above Sderot, Israel.

Credit…

Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

No deaths have been reported in Israel as a result of the rocket fire, which triggered multiple sirens on Wednesday and sent residents running for bomb shelters. But the Magen David Adom emergency medical service said it had treated dozens of people as a result of the rocket fire that began on Tuesday. A few were lightly injured by shrapnel; the rest were wounded while running for cover or showed stress symptoms.

The fight remained between Israel and Islamic Jihad, with Hamas, the larger militant group that governs Gaza, having stayed out of the fray so far. If Hamas were to start firing, the conflict would likely spiral down sharply, with Israeli officials warning of harsh consequences.

Hamas sent mixed messages, issuing statements in solidarity with Islamic Jihad and the “resistance” in the name of the Joint Operation Chamber, a committee of all the militant factions in Gaza that at least nominally is managing the battle.

Analysts put Hamas’s continued restraint down to its probable desire for a quick return to its understandings with Israel that have led to relative calm along the border in recent months, as well as injections of Qatari cash for the organization.

Hamas’s reticence perhaps also attested to frustrations with Islamic Jihad. Israeli officials said the smaller group had repeatedly tried to disrupt the cease-fire with sporadic, rogue rocket fire over the last year and had specifically accused Baha Abu al-Ata, the commander who was killed along with his wife in a missile strike as they slept in their apartment before dawn on Tuesday, of directing the attacks.

But standing by could also have consequences. One Israeli minister, Yuval Steinitz, warned that Israel would broaden its assault if Hamas did not act to rein in Islamic Jihad.

A funeral for an Islamic Jihad militant in Beit Hanun, Gaza, on Wednesday.

Credit…

Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Issuing a stern warning to Islamic Jihad, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was not looking for an escalation but would respond harshly to each rocket attack.

“Islamic Jihad would do well to understand this right now, instead of when it will be too late,” Mr. Netanyahu said at the start of a special cabinet meeting. “I believe that Islamic Jihad is starting to internalize this message. They understand that we will continue to strike them without mercy. They understand that Israel is very strong and that our will is very great.”

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, said his organization was working “to urgently de-escalate the situation.”

“The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars against population centers is absolutely unacceptable and must stop immediately,” Mr. Mladenov said in a statement.

Burnt cars in Sderot.

Credit…

Ariel Schalit/Associated Press

Islamic Jihad’s military wing took responsibility for all the rocket fire in a statement on Wednesday.

But Islamic Jihad appeared to have scaled back the range of its rocket fire, if not the intensity of its barrages, in response to the killing of Mr. Abu al-Ata. Most rockets and mortar shells appeared aimed at Israeli cities and communities within a few miles of the Gaza border, with the militants refraining from firing at the populous Tel Aviv area to the north, as they did initially on Tuesday.

In addition to the attack that killed Mr. Abu al-Ata, the group also blamed Israel for the attempted assassination of Akram al-Ajouri, an Islamic Jihad leader whose home in Damascus, Syria was also hit by an airstrike before dawn on Tuesday. The group said its “account with the Zionist enemy is still open,” adding, “our jihad is ongoing and our operations are continuing.”

Israel has remained silent about the attack on Mr. al-Ajouri, which killed his son and another man, neither taking nor denying responsibility.

The Israeli military said on Wednesday that it was limiting its airstrikes to Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza, including infrastructure, weapons manufacturing facilities and rocket-launching crews. The military said it also struck one squad that was preparing to fire anti-tank missiles.

Still, the situation remained highly volatile. Islamic Jihad made it clear on Tuesday that its real revenge for the killing was yet to come, suggesting that the rocket fire was just a prelude. And the more the death toll rose in Gaza, the more likely that Hamas would come under pressure to get involved.

In Gaza, schools and most businesses remained closed and people mostly kept indoors, wary of Israeli strikes and the danger of misfired rockets falling short of the border.

Three civilians, Rafat Ayyad and his two sons, Islam and Amir, one of them a young child, were killed in an airstrike as they rode on a motorcycle in a residential district of Gaza City on Wednesday morning, according to relatives.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said he did not have details of what happened in that case. But he added that the military was taking “extensive measures, both intelligence-wise and operationally, and in the choice of munitions we use, to minimize to the greatest extent possible any harm to noncombatants.”

Many Gazans said they wanted to see the militant groups respond harshly to deter Israel from carrying out further assassinations after the killing of Mr. Abu al-Ata.

“This was a cowardly act,” said Ismail Al-Khour, 30, a mechanic in Gaza City. “The resistance must bomb them and the occupied lands.”

Israeli schools within a 25-mile radius of the Gaza border were closed for a second day on Wednesday. After dusk, the authorities instructed the residents of communities close to the Gaza border to stay near their safe rooms and bomb shelters amid almost constant rocket fire.

Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system intercepted most of the rockets headed toward population centers, but one house in the coastal city of Ashkelon suffered a direct hit and a woman was moderately injured.

Israel’s newly appointed defense minister, Naftali Bennett, issued his own warning to enemies on all fronts on his first day in the post, saying, “Whoever plans to harm us by day will never be sure that they will make it though the night.”

Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem, and Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza City. Ibrahim El-Mughraby contributed reporting from Gaza City.

Netanyahu vows to ‘mercilessly’ hit Gaza militants outside the Temple Walls

Netanyahu vows to ‘mercilessly’ hit Gaza militants; Gaza Strip residents say kids living in fear

“They have one choice, to stop these attacks or absorb more and more blows,” the prime minister said amid the escalating violence.

Nov. 13, 2019, 10:00 AM MST

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Wednesday that Israel was prepared to hit Iran-backed Islamic Jihad militants in the Gaza Strip “mercilessly,” while a Gaza Strip resident described conditions there as close to unbearable, saying “we try to calm the kids but they live in fear.”

“In the last day, we have destroyed important targets of Islamic Jihad,” the caretaker prime minister told a Cabinet meeting, referring to the militants who launched more than 200 rockets into Israel after an Israeli airstrike killed Bahaa Abu el-Atta, one of its senior commanders, and his wife. “They have one choice, to stop these attacks or absorb more and more blows.”

Netanyahu said the country was not looking to escalate the conflict.

Tuesday’s strike on the second-largest militant group in the Gaza Strip triggered the most serious escalation of violence in the area in months. Since early Tuesday, Israel has pounded Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza, while rockets fired from the strip reached as far as Tel Aviv.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said 24 Palestinians have been killed in the flare-up and 69 wounded. Of the 24, 20 were militants and four civilians, according to Palestinian officials. In Israel, 48 people were wounded, including two men who were injured by shrapnel, according to the country’s emergency medical services.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian politician in the West Bank, condemned the targeted killing, as well as the Israeli strikes.

“An entire captive civilian population is helpless and defenseless in the face of Israeli bombardment,” she said in a statement.

In a sign that it may want to reduce the potential for a wider conflict, Israel has not hit Hamas — the largest militant group the runs Gaza — or mentioned its name in briefings.

Netanyahu told the council heads of areas closest to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday that Israel’s action was carried out with “surgical precision.”

In Gaza, schools and most government offices remained closed for a second day Wednesday, as were schools throughout much of southern Israel. Border crossings into Gaza were also closed.

Imad Saudi, 52, told NBC News that conditions in Gaza were close to unbearable.

Life is almost nonexistent and the markets and the shops are completely closed,” the father of seven said. “We try to calm the kids but they live in fear.”

In Nirim, an Israeli kibbutz on the border fence with Gaza, Adele Raemer said the conflict made it feel like life “was on hold.”

“I’m supposed to go to school tomorrow. I have no idea if there’s going to be school,” she said in a video posted to her Facebook page about life on the border with Gaza.

Anxiety has been running high throughout Israeli communities near the fence in southern Israel ever since March 2018, when Palestinians started the “Great March of Return” demonstrations, as well as flocks of incendiary kites and explosive balloons as well as rockets from Gaza.

Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005 but keeps it under a blockade, citing security concerns. Aid officials warn that the 2 million Palestinians living there face imminent humanitarian collapse. Hamas and Israel have fought three wars between 2008 and 2014, after the group took control of the territory in 2007.

Netanyahu is currently Israel’s caretaker prime minister. His main rival, former military chief Benny Gantz, is trying to form a coalition government after Netanyahu failed to do so following an election in September.

22 Palestinians Killed Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

A vehicle burns after a factory caught on fire in Sdero…

22 Palestinians Killed as Israel Strikes Gaza for Second Day

Wednesday, 13 November, 2019 – 06:15 –

Asharq Al-Awsat

Exchanges of fire triggered by Israel’s targeted killing of a top Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza raged for a second day Wednesday and showed little sign of easing, with 22 Palestinians killed.

Fresh rocket barrages were fired at Israel, which responded with strikes on what it said were Jihad militant sites and rocket-launching squads in the Gaza Strip.

Air raid sirens wailed and fireballs exploded as air defense missiles intercepted rockets, sending Israelis rushing to bomb shelters.

In Gaza, residents surveyed damage and mourned the dead outside a mortuary and at funerals.

UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov was expected in Cairo for talks on halting the fighting, a diplomatic source said, but a source close to the discussions warned the risk of further escalation remained high.

In comments Wednesday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Jihad must stop its stop rocket attacks or “absorb more and more blows”.

He reiterated his warning that “this could take time” and said Israel would respond to attacks “without mercy.”

Jihad spokesman Musab al-Barayem said the group was not interested in mediation for now as it responded to the killing of one of its commanders.

Israel killed senior Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata and his wife Asma in a targeted strike early Tuesday, prompting barrages of rocket fire in revenge and retaliatory Israeli air strikes.

According to Israel, Ata was responsible for rocket fire at Israel as well as other attacks and was planning more violence, with the military calling him a “ticking bomb.”

The flare-up raised fears of a new conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, who have fought three wars since 2008.

A total of 22 Palestinians have been killed so far, including Ata and his wife, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Jihad confirmed that the dead included other members of its armed wing.

220 rockets

Since Israel’s killing of Ata in what was believed to be a drone strike, at least 220 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza and dozens have been intercepted by air defenses, according to the army.

There have been no Israeli deaths, though damage has been caused and one rocket narrowly missed cars on a busy highway.

Israeli medics said they had treated 48 people with light wounds, while schools were closed in areas near the Gaza border for a second day running.

On Tuesday, school closures included the commercial capital Tel Aviv.

Schools in the blockaded Gaza Strip, an enclave of two million people, have been closed since Tuesday.

Unusually and in a sign it was seeking to avoid a wider conflict, Israel’s announced targets were confined to Jihad sites and not those belonging to Hamas.

It normally holds Hamas, the movement that rules the Gaza Strip, responsible for all rocket fire from the enclave as the territory’s de facto rulers.

Israeli analysts were quick to highlight the change of approach.

“For the first time in the current era, Israel drew a distinction between Hamas and Jihad,” commentator Ben Caspit wrote in Israeli newspaper Maariv.

“By so doing, Israel deviated from its iron-clad principle that Hamas, as the sovereign power in Gaza, has to pay the price for any action taken by anyone in the Gaza Strip. That is now no longer the case.”

Jihad is the second most-powerful armed group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas.

The flare-up comes at a politically sensitive time for Israel.

A September 17 general election ended in a deadlock and a new government is yet to be formed.

It was the second election since April, when polls also ended inconclusively.

The violence drew international calls for calm.

Britain’s foreign office said “we call on all sides to rapidly de-escalate the situation, and support the UN and Egyptian efforts to achieve that objective.”

Israel Sends a Chilling Message Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

An Israeli strike in eastern Gaza killed Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa abu Atta and his wife. (AFP/Getty Images)

Israel’s targeted killing of a Palestinian leader sends a chilling message to Hamas

By NOGA TARNOPOLSKY , RUSHDI ABU ALOUF

NOV. 12, 2019

5:45 PM

JERUSALEM —  For years, the group known as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second most powerful faction in the blockaded Gaza Strip, has sought to play a leading role in Palestinian affairs, often jousting with Hamas, the armed militia that has ruled the enclave for almost 12 years.

In Israel and the West, both entities are widely considered terrorist groups. In the contest between the two, Hamas’ expanded responsibilities include the management of daily life in Gaza, whereas Islamic Jihad remains stuck in the secondary role of a paramilitary group threatening and aggravating Israel and Egypt, among others.

From the Israeli perspective, “it is not that Hamas is any better,” said Amos Gilead, executive director of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. “But because it has responsibility for the Gazan population, at least you can predict its actions. With Islamic Jihad, well, there’s just nothing to do.”

On Tuesday, Israel went after the group, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing that the Israeli air force had killed “arch-terrorist” Bahaa abu Atta, 42, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander, in a daybreak surgical strike in which his wife, Asma, also died. Islamic Jihad retaliated with nearly 200 missiles fired into Israel, which struck back with air sorties that left eight people dead in Gaza, authorities there said. No Israelis were reported killed in the daylong combat.

Israel holds Abu Atta responsible for hundreds of missile launches into its territory, including a particularly audacious move on Sept. 10, in which the southern city of Ashdod was pelted with rockets at the very moment Netanyahu addressed an audience of his party faithful at a campaign event a week before elections.

Rockets are fired Nov. 12, 2019, toward southern Israel from Gaza City.(AFP/Getty Images)

Netanyahu’s remarks, streamed live on his Facebook page, were interrupted by the piercing wail of air raid sirens and the sight of his bodyguards leaping onstage and whisking him to safety in front of stunned spectators.

But for all of Netanyahu’s apparent pride Tuesday in the successful operation, it once again proved to Israelis and Palestinians how delicate the status quo is.

Tuesday turned into a day of almost-warp, with Islamic Jihad rockets reaching as far north as Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic nerve center, and paralyzing much of the country. Islamic Jihad receives most of its support from Iran.

Homes and at least one factory were demolished by direct strikes, but the lack of fatalities on the Israeli side testified to the success of the Iron Dome antimissile system, the country’s extensive network of civil defense installations, and a population trained in following the instructions of the army’s Home Front Command.

In Tel Aviv and surrounding cities, and in the entire south of Israel, children were kept home from school and many businesses were shuttered. The barrage continued into the evening but quieted after midnight.

The Palestinian Authority, which has a contentious relationship with both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, appeared largely unmoved, although chief negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned Israel’s act as a “crime.” Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad issued statements condemning the assassination of Abu Atta and threatening continued retaliation.

Fathi Sabbah, a Gazan writer and political analyst, said in an interview that “Hamas will think a thousand times before entering a long confrontation with Israel.” He added: “Hamas appears to be suffering from complete loss of control, giving Abu Atta the space to launch attacks on Israel without coordination.”

For Hamas, the deadly protests against Israel are a welcome diversion

A stalemate reigns on all sides, between Israelis and Palestinians and within each population.

Netanyahu has led a caretaker government for almost a year and has failed, after two rough electoral campaigns, to form a new government.

On Tuesday, calling the Gaza violence crazy, President Trump appeared perplexed but amused at Netanyahu’s predicament.

At a New York fundraiser for Orthodox Jews, he wondered: “What kind of a system is it over there? They are all fighting and fighting…. They keep having elections and nobody is elected.”

The uptick in violence and disruption of civilian life came at a precarious time for Netanyahu, who is expected to be indicted on several counts of corruption, including bribery, fraud and breach of trust, before the end of the year.

Former army chief Benny Gantz, the center-left leader who barely bested Netanyahu in the September vote while failing to win a parliamentary majority, has a week left in his mandate to form a new government before the entire morass is thrown to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, which is itself deadlocked. The unending cycle could continue into third successive elections.

Netanyahu spent much of the day before Abu Atta’s killing darkly warning Israelis against Gantz’s possible coalition with left-of-center parties. “A minority government supported by the Arab parties is a slap to the face of [Israeli] soldiers and a danger to the state of Israel,” he said.

Arab citizens account for 20% of the Israeli population. Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are not Israeli citizens.

Although army officials insisted that the timing of the Abu Atta operation was strictly a matter of opportunity — knowing he was a target, he usually surrounded himself with women and children — Netanyahu did not shy away from taking full credit as having guaranteed the nation’s security.

Special correspondents Tarnopolsky and Abu Alouf reported from Jerusalem and Gaza City, respectively.

Israel Kills Senior Islamic Jihad Commander Outside the Temple (Revelation 11)

The home of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad senior commander Baha Abu al-Ata after it was hit by an Israeli strike in Gaza City on Tuesday.Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

Israel Kills Senior Islamic Jihad Commander in Gaza

By Isabel Kershner, Iyad Abuheweila and David M. Halbfinger

Nov. 12, 2019

The Israeli strike prompted a wave of rocket attacks by Gaza militants after a period of relative calm.

JERUSALEM — In a surprise strike before dawn on Tuesday, Israeli forces killed a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group in the Gaza Strip, setting off waves of retaliatory rocket attacks that immediately raised fears of an escalating new conflict.

Islamic Jihad said that the commander’s wife was also killed in the attack, at 4 a.m., which the Israeli military said was a missile strike from a fighter jet.

The timing of the attack, amid a protracted, high-stakes negotiation over who will lead Israel’s next government, led some critics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to charge that it was politically motivated. Mr. Netanyahu insisted that the timing was dictated by Israel’s security chiefs, whose recommendation he had merely endorsed.

Before 6 a.m., militants in Gaza began firing barrages of rockets toward southern and central Israel from the Palestinian coastal enclave. Islamic Jihad called the Israeli strike “a declaration of war against the Palestinian people” and said, “Our response to this crime will have no limits.”

Schools and businesses were closed in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area as air-raid sirens blared and Iron Dome missiles intercepted dozens of rockets. Tens of thousands of Israelis took cover in bomb shelters.

The funeral of Mr. Abu al-Ata in Gaza City on Tuesday.Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Islamic Jihad also blamed Israel for another missile attack at dawn on Tuesday on the Damascus home of Akram al-Ajouri, describing him as a member of the group’s political bureau in Syria.

Mr. al-Ajouri was reported to have survived the attack. Sana, the official Syrian news agency, reported that a son of Mr. al-Ajouri and another civilian were killed in the attack. Mr. al-Ajouri is said to be the direct superior of Mr. Abu al-Ata. The Israeli military refused to comment on the attack in Damascus.

Israel described the Gaza commander, Baha Abu al-Ata, as a “ticking bomb” who was “responsible for most of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s activity in the Gaza Strip.” The group is listed as a terrorist organization by many countries, and is supported by Iran.

For months, Palestinian Islamic Jihad has played a rogue’s role in Gaza, where Hamas and Israel have repeatedly reached informal agreements to quiet tensions, only to have Islamic Jihad, which does not answer to Hamas’s authority, shatter the calm.

The killing of Mr. Abu al-Ata came after a period of relative quiet along the border, though there had been some sporadic rocket fire as recently as Nov. 1.

The Israeli military said Mr. Abu al-Ata was to blame for that and for rocket fire toward the town of Sderot in August, and he was being closely monitored over the past week because he was planning a specific new attack against Israel.

But some Israeli analysts suggested that an incident on Sept. 10, a week before the last Israeli election, may have sealed Mr. Abu al-Ata’s fate: When Mr. Netanyahu made a campaign stop in Ashdod — at a location that was announced in advance, breaking with the customary security precautions — a rocket strike on Ashdod sent the prime minister and his entourage scurrying offstage to shelter.

Amit Segal, a news anchor for Israel’s Channel 12, wrote on Twitter that there had been an “invisible laser marker” on the heads of both Mr. Abu al-Ata and his Damascus superior from that moment.

Militant groups in Gaza have clashed with Israel several times in recent years, with the last deadly conflagration taking place over several days in May. A devastating war in the summer of 2014 lasted 50 days and ended with a fragile cease-fire that has since been broken many times.

Targeted strikes against militant leaders have led to war before, and Israel has sworn them off in the past. In 2012, an Israeli airstrike that killed Ahmed al-Jabari, the Hamas military commander at the time, became the opening shot of an eight-day war. In May, Israel released video of an airstrike it said killed a Hamas official responsible for ferrying large amounts of Iranian cash into Gaza.

A spokesman for the Israeli military, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said the attack on Tuesday was timed to minimize the chance of other deaths or injuries.

Some 160 rockets were fired on Israel by early afternoon, of which about 60 had been intercepted by missile defense systems, the Israeli military said. At least one man was wounded by shrapnel by early afternoon, officials said, but most Israeli casualties involved people who suffered minor injuries as they raced to shelters or who were treated for panic or fainting.

Around 11 a.m., it carried out another airstrike in Gaza against what it said were two Islamic Jihad operatives preparing to launch a rocket.

Health officials in Gaza put the casualties there at three dead before 1 p.m., suggesting one of the two had been killed, and 18 wounded.

Finally, with the rocket launches continuing, the military said it was more broadly striking Islamic Jihad targets. Its spokesman’s office announced that response on Twitter with the hashtag #JiHadEnough.

In recent weeks Mr. Abu al-Ata’s name cropped up frequently in the reporting of Israeli military correspondents — which Colonel Conricus said was no accident, and was meant as a warning.

Hamas, the larger Islamic militant group that dominates in Gaza, said that it, too, mourned Mr. Abu al-Ata’s death and that his killing would not go unpunished, but stopped short of saying it would be involved in the fighting. Islamic Jihad and Hamas are uneasy rivals in Gaza, but in times of hostility with Israel, the groups tend to make common cause.

Damage to a house in the southern Israeli town of Netivot after a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip.Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Giora Eiland, a retired Israeli general and former national security adviser, said that unlike Hamas, which has a strong and popular political component, Islamic Jihad “is purely a terrorist organization. It has no real political agenda, and more important, Islamic Jihad is fully supported by Iran and fully subordinated to Iranian instructions.”

Mr. Eiland said he believed that the Damascus attack was also carried out by Israel, and said that Islamic Jihad personnel in Syria had a direct connection with Iran and gave instructions to the group’s members in Gaza.

In the hours after the attack, masked militants of Islamic Jihad surrounded the two-story building where Mr. Abu al-Ata and his wife were killed. It is in Shejaiya, a neighborhood east of Gaza City that saw fierce battles during the 2014 war.

Mutassem Hilis, 23, a university student and a neighbor of the Abu al-Ata family in Shejaiya, said he was woken up by the blast, came out of his building and saw Mr. Abu al-Ata’s body on the sidewalk. One of Mr. Abu al-Ata’s young sons lay injured on the ground and was later driven off to the hospital, he said. The body of Mr. Abu al-Ata’s wife was found in a school opposite the family house.

Within Israel, the violence Tuesday occurred in a moment of heightened political tension, as Mr. Netanyahu fights for his political life. He is leading a caretaker government after two elections, in April and September, ended inconclusively. He also faces a looming indictment in three graft cases, possibly by the end of this month.

Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Tuesday.Khalil Hamra/Associated Press

Benny Gantz, a centrist former Israeli army chief of staff who defeated Mr. Netanyahu in the September election, now is seeking to form a government and possibly force Mr. Netanyahu from power for the first time in a decade.

Mr. Gantz and others in his Blue and White party expressed support for the military action against Palestinian Islamic Jihad, about which he said he had been briefed in advance. He wrote on Twitter that the political echelon and the military had “taken a correct decision tonight for the security of Israel’s citizens and the residents of the south.”

But other Netanyahu opponents charged that the Gaza strike was aimed mainly at aiding the prime minister’s bid to stay in power. Avigdor Liberman, a right-wing rival, said he had urged the killing of Mr. Abu al-Ata more than a year ago, when he was still defense minister, but that Mr. Netanyahu had blocked it.

“Better late than never,” he said.

Omer Barlev, a Labor Party legislator, said Mr. Abu al-Ata had been in the military’s sights for a long time, adding: “Why did Netanyahu change his position now?”

And the leader of the mainly Arab Joint List, Ayman Odeh, wrote on Twitter: “A cynical man who lost two consecutive elections will leave only scorched earth in a desperate attempt to remain in office.”

Tacitly acknowledging the need to address those allegations, Mr. Netanyahu appeared publicly alongside Israel’s military and internal-security chiefs. He said they had both recommended killing Mr. Abu al-Ata, and that his Cabinet had authorized it 10 days ago.

“We tried to prevent his activity in various ways, but without success,” said Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the army chief of staff, explaining his recommendation to attack Mr. Abu al-Ata.

In rare public remarks, the chief of the Israel Security Agency, Nadav Argaman, said Israel had been tracking Mr. Abu al-Ata’s movements for days as he moved from safe house to safe house. “He acted like a wanted man,” Mr. Argaman said.

Still, the possibility of a unity government in which Mr. Gantz would join forces with Mr. Netanyahu, and perhaps even allow Mr. Netanyahu to remain prime minister for a limited period, may just have increased.

Avi Benayahu, a former army spokesman, wrote on Twitter that Tuesday’s fighting amounted to “concentrated baking powder for a national unity government.”

“Add in the early tip-off Gantz received about the action and the unreserved support for the operation from Blue and White leaders,” he added, “and you have a perfectly baked cake ready for eating.”

Isabel Kershner and David M. Halbfinger reported from Jerusalem, and Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza City. Ibrahim El-Mughraby contributed reporting from Gaza City.

Isabel Kershner, a correspondent in Jerusalem, has been reporting on Israeli and Palestinian politics since 1990. She is the author of “Barrier: The Seam of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” @IKershner • Facebook

David M. Halbfinger is the Jerusalem bureau chief, covering Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and the Middle East. @halbfinger

Hamas Strikes Israel Back From Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel hit by 50 rockets from Gaza after airstrike kills Islamic Jihad leader

Hamas, the militant group controlling Gaza, called the strike “a dangerous escalation”.

By Patrick Smith, Paul Goldman, Lawahez Jabari and Rachel Elbaum

Around 50 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel after an Israeli airstrike targeted and killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza early on Tuesday in the most serious escalation of violence in months.

In northern Gaza, the Israeli strike killed Bahaa Abu el-Atta and his wife, as Islamic Jihad vowed further revenge.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a live statement on Tuesday that Abu el-Atta was the mastermind of many recent attacks against Israel and a “ticking bomb.”

The home of Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu el-Atta after it was hit by an Israeli strike that killed him in Gaza City on Tuesday.Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Less than two hours after the strike, sirens sounded in central and southern Israel warning of incoming rockets from Gaza. The Israeli military said its “Iron Dome” aerial defense system had intercepted about 20 rockets. The military released footage of a rocket hitting an Israeli highway and narrowly missing two cars. Schools and businesses were closed across southern Israel.

“The barrage of rockets being fired by Islamic Jihad in #Gaza at Israeli civilians after our surgical strike on their commander shows exactly why he was targeted in the first place,” the Israel Defense Forces said on Twitter.

Throughout the day, Israeli jets targeted further Islamic Jihad sites in Gaza, including a training facility and underground weapons production and storage areas, the military said. The Israeli Air Force also said that it killed two fighters from the organization’s rocket launching unit.

The Islamic Jihad said Abu el-Atta, 42, was undergoing “a heroic act” when he was assassinated.

In a statement, the militant group said: “These terrorist crimes are aggression and a declaration of war against the Palestinian people, and the enemy bears full responsibility for them.”

Islamic Jihad is the second-largest militant group in Gaza and is supported by Iran. It and Hamas, which runs Gaza, vow to destroy Israel and are considered terrorist groups by the U.S.

A spokesman for Hamas warned that Israel’s actions could provoke more violence.

“The Zionist enemy’s assassination of the leader Mujahid Bahaa Abu al-Atta is a dangerous escalation, and the continuation of the series of aggression and criminality against our people and its valiant resistance,” said Fawzi Barhoum.

Syrian municipality workers clear debris from building in Damascus following an air strike on Tuesday.Louai Beshara / AFP – Getty Images

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee in the West Bank, called the targeted killing of Abu el-Atta “reckless and criminal.”

The Israeli airstrike took place at the same time as an attempted separate attack on another Islamic Jihad leader, Akram Al-Ajouri, in Damascus. Syrian state media said Israel was behind the attack. Al-Ajouri survived but Islamic Jihad claimed that the attack killed one of his sons.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene said the attack destroyed a three-story building in Damascus, located on a main highway about 50 yards across from the Lebanese Embassy.

In his statement, Netanyahu appealed to the Israeli public for patience and said that the operation could take time.

“Israel is not interested in escalation, but we will do everything required to protect ourselves,” Netanyahu said.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, told reporters that Abu el-Atta was responsible for a number of recent rocket attacks on southern Israel and claimed that he was actively planning new attacks.

“We essentially over the last week have been waiting for the opportune moment to conduct this surgical strike,” he said.

An Israeli missile is launched from the Iron Dome system designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells on Tuesday. Jack Guez / AFP – Getty Images

Conricus added that the airstrike had been carried out with a warplane that destroyed only the floor of the building where Abu el-Atta was hiding in order to minimize “collateral damage.

Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 but keeps it under a blockade, citing security concerns. Aid officials warn that the 2 million Palestinians living in the narrow strip of land face imminent humanitarian collapse.

Netanyahu is currently Israel’s caretaker prime minister. His rival is now attempting to form a coalition government after Netanyahu failed to do so following an election in September.

The attacks also come at a tense moment for Islamic Jihad’s Iranian patrons, who are struggling under crippling U.S. sanctions.

Iran’s regional influence is also being challenged by unprecedented, economically-driven mass protests in Iraq and Lebanon — two countries where Tehran wields major influence. The protests are creating unrest that Tehran fears would spark a backlash against Iran-backed proxy militias in those countries. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has accused the U.S. and its regional allies of fomenting the Iraq and Lebanon unrest