January 8, 2018

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Year in review: 20 Israelis killed in attacks; IDF hit 59 Gaza targets

IDF issued a report chronicling operational incidents of 2017.

Some 35 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel during 2017, the largest number of projectiles fired at the country since the conclusion of Operation Protective Edge waged in Gaza in 2014, the military said.

According to the data, the IDF hit 59 terror targets in the coastal enclave during 2017, including training facilities, terrorist infrastructure, lookout posts and weapons manufacturing mills.

20 Israelis were killed and 169 were wounded in terrorist attacks in 2017, compared to 17 killed and 263 wounded in 2016.

Data released on Operation Good Neighbor for 2017 stated that 927 Syrians received medical treatment in Israeli hospitals over the course of the year.  Some 2,237 boxes of medicine and 400 medical devices were provided to Syrians, and 2,679 Syrian patients were treated in a field hospital established with medical assistance at the Israeli-Syrian border.



Palestinians attack Greek Orthodox patriarch over contested land-sale to Jews

Palestinians on Saturday (6th) pummeled the car of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem during a visit to the West Bank in protest against the church’s decision to sell land to Jewish groups.

The Greek Orthodox church is one of the biggest private landowners in the Holy Land and in recent years has stirred controversy by selling prime assets to private investors.



Trump follows through and slashes aid to Palestinians

Last Thursday (4th), President Trump tweeted that he was questioning the usefulness of massive American financial aid to the Palestinian Authority when it continues to incite against Israel and won’t come to the negotiating table.

Just days later, it was revealed that Trump had significantly slashed U.S. contributions to UNRWA, the special UN body set up to cater to so-called Palestinian “refugees.”

Until now the U.S. covered a full one-fourth of UNRWA’s operating costs.

Three western diplomats confirmed to Israel’s Channel 10 news over the weekend that Trump had frozen $125 million in annual aid to UNRWA, about one-third of the annual U.S. contribution.

UNRWA has been criticized for allowing itself to be exploited by radical elements within the Palestinian power- structure.  In Gaza, the organization’s schools are routinely used as cover and storage facilities for Hamas forces, and the textbooks by which it teaches Palestinian children, are laced with anti-Israel vitriol.



Ramallah should be Palestinian capital, says Egyptian officer

Captain Ashraf al-Kholi, an Egyptian intelligence officer, has been urging influential talk show hosts to accept U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and convince their viewers as well, it was reported Saturday (6th).

He asked the question, “How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah? in an interview with the New York Times.  He said the Palestinians should content themselves with the city that currently serves as their de facto administrative capital.



Hamas member dies in ‘accidental explosion’ in Gaza, terror group says

A member of Hamas’ military wing died on Sunday (7th) in an accidental explosion in the northern Gaza Strip, the Palestinian terror group said.

Hamas’ military wing the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement on its website that 22-year-old Mohammad Fathi Janid, “one of its heroic jihadi fighters from the town of Jabala in the Gaza Strip. Was killed by an accidental explosion.”



Gazans irked by early-morning calls to prayer

In recent weeks, Gaza residents have been jolted awake in the dead of the night to a raucous mixture of Quranic phrases, Islamic supplications and prayers delivered by loudspeakers to their doorsteps.

The Fajr, or “Dawn,” campaign has set off a heated debate over whether it is appropriate to force religion on the masses.  One leading religious scholar has even warned that it is un-Islamic to “annoy” people.

The organizers, mostly mosque committees reporting to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Religious Affairs, say they want to see the mosques as full at dawn as at the noon prayer on Friday – the highlight of the Islamic week.

(ynetnews.com; ap.com)


Despite government claims, Iran protests not over, Israeli expert says

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced Sunday (7th) that the wave of anti-government protests in the country had ended, saying government forces “defeated the unrest fomented by foreign enemies” in a statement released to its Sepah News website.

However, Menashe Amir, an expert on Iranian affairs and veteran broadcaster in the Persian language denies the reports.

According to Amir, protesters now wait until nightfall to go out and demonstrate, unlike the first days when they took to the streets in daylight.  While the numbers have not dramatically risen, more and more villages and towns are participating in the wave of protests, he said, estimating that between 70 to 100 villages and towns are involved in the anti-government demonstrations.



Iran bans English in primary school after leader’s warning

Iran has banned the teaching of English in primary schools, a senior education official said, after the country’s Supreme Leader said early learning of the language opened the way to a Western “cultural invasion.”

“Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against our laws and regulations,” Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the state-run High Education Council, told state television late on Saturday (6th).



Report: Ex-Iranian president Ahmadinejad arrested for inciting unrest

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been arrested by authorities for inciting unrest against the Rouhani government, the London-based daily Al-Quds AlArabi reported Saturday (6th) quoting reliable sources.

The newspaper said that Ahmadinejad, during a visit to the western city of Bushehr on December 28, said, “Some of the current leaders live detached from the problems and concerns of the people, and do not know anything about the reality of society.”

(timesofisrael.com; afp.com)


Egypt’s Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas amid tight security

CAIRO – The head of the Coptic church, Pope Tawadros II, led a midnight Christmas service in the cathedral of Egypt’s new administrative capital on Saturday (6th), a service attended by President Abdel Fattah al Sisi.

The service, on the eve of the Coptic Christmas which is celebrated on Jan. 7, was the first held in the newly-built cathedral and took place amid tight security.  Sisi was cheered as he entered the building.

The celebrations were held days after attacks on a Coptic church and another Christian-owned shop that left more than 10 people dead.

Egypt’s large Christian minority has increasingly been targeted in recent years by Islamist militants including Islamic State, which is waging an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.