News Digest — 3/19/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

IDF Soldier Killed, 2 Wounded in Terror Attack

The IDF soldier killed Sunday morning (17th) in a West Bank shooting attack was Staff Sergeant Gal Keidan, aged 19, from Beersheba.

A combat soldier, Keidan was killed when a Palestinian attacker stabbed him and seized his weapon at Ariel Junction, close to the settlement bearing the same name.

The attacker then shot Keidan with his own gun before fleeing the scene in a stolen car.  The gunman later shot and wounded two other people.

Keidan was a member of the Artillery Corp, from the “Fire” Brigade.  He will be laid to rest at 11 a.m. Monday (18th) at the military cemetery in his hometown.

One of the wounded was identified as Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, aged 47, a resident of the Jewish town of Eli and a father of 12.

Doctors at Beilinson Hospital were fighting to save the rabbi’s life after he was left in critical condition in the shooting attack.

A younger man, still unidentified  sustained abdominal and spinal injuries and was immediately prepped for surgery, also at Beilinson Hospital.

The terrorist responsible for the attacks was shot and wounded during the rampage, yet managed to escape, the IDF said Sunday evening (17th).

Ariel Junction was the site of a fatal stabbing just over a year ago, when a Palestinian terrorist killed Itamar ben Gal, an Israeli father, as he waited at a hitchhiking post.



Netanyahu, Rivlin Condemn West Bank Terror Shootings, Vow To Apprehend Attacker

Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, condemned the terror attack that took place Sunday morning (17th) at a pair of junctions in the northern West Bank in which one Israeli man was killed and two were injured.

“We are in the midst of pursuing the terrorists in two locations in the Ariel area,” Netanyahu said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, Sunday (17th).  “I affirm my support for the IDF soldiers, the Shin Bet and the security forces chasing the terrorists. I’m sure they will catch them…as we did in every previous case.”

The IDF said it was not immediately clear whether the shooter had acted alone.

“My thoughts are with the families who are right now coming to terms with the horrible news from the horrific  terrorist attack, and with the security forces who are right now in pursuit of the terrorists. The State of Israel will seek out, find and defeat all those who attack us,” President Reuven Rivlin tweeted.

Several lawmakers used the attacks as a platform for political statements over how to best handle Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

Sunday’s attack began at around 9:45 a.m. near Ariel Junction, according to Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.

“Additional forces have been deployed to the scene in a manhunt coordinated with the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Police,” Conricus said, adding that it was not immediately clear whether the suspect was affiliated with any terror group or was acting alone.



UN Official Condemns Hamas Crackdown On Gaza Protests

A UN envoy condemned Gaza’s ruling Hamas group on Sunday (17th) for what he called a campaign of arrests and violence in confronting street protests over the past few days against higher taxes.

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets across the enclave in “We Want To Live” demonstrations.  Human rights officials said dozens of people have been detained or hurt.

Cellular phone videos posted on social media showed Hamas security forces beating protesters with clubs, as gunshots were heard in the background.  Tires were burned and rocks were thrown at Hamas men. One protester set himself on fire.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for Middle East peace, said in a statement that “the long-suffering people of Gaza” have a right to protest at “the dire economic situation” without fear of reprisal.

“I strongly condemn the campaign of arrests and violence used by Hamas security forces against protesters, including women and children, in Gaza.”

Most of Gaza’s two-million people live in poverty.  Hamas has accused the security services of the rival Fatah movement, the main faction in the Palestinian Authority, of masterminding the protests in an attempt to weaken it.  Fatah officials deny the allegation.

The Palestinian Authority has been imposing economic sanctions in Gaza to try to force Hamas, which seized the enclave in 2007, to implement a power-sharing agreement.

In his statement, Mladenov said he was particularly alarmed by “the brutal beating of journalists and staff from the Independent Commission for Human Rights, (ICHR) and the raiding of homes.”

Local rights groups said several of their employees were beaten or detained by Hamas police while monitoring the protests.



Egypt Warns Hamas: Israel Will Topple You And ‘We Won’t Lift A Finger’

Israel media reports that Egyptian officials were enraged last Thursday (14th) when news reached them of the rocket attack over the Tel Aviv area from the Gaza Strip at the very moment they were acting as mediators to the conflict between Hamas and Israel.

“If Israel decides to start a wide-scale operation in Gaza, [Egypt] won’t stop the Israeli attacks.  Even if Israel ends your rule in Gaza by assassinating every single one of you and reconquers Gaza, Egypt and its allies won’t lift a finger to stop the Israeli response,” said a senior Egyptian negotiator at the meeting, according to daily newspaper Israel Hayom.

“You’re endangering our lives,” the official added.  “Gazans’ blood is on your hands.”

The senior Egyptian official told the newspaper what he had said at the meeting and that his delegation had been blindsided by news of the rocket attack, which arrived just as the Egyptian team was relaying potential terms of a ceasefire agreement from Israel to Hamas leaders.

Egyptian diplomats screamed at Hamas leader Yahyah Sinwar, “Where do you think your double-dealing will land you?  We’re trying to finalize a peace agreement with Israel, and behind our backs you let your people fire missiles at Tel Aviv!”

In response to the rockets, Israel hammered over 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.



Jewish Groups Express Solidarity With Muslims After Christchurch Attack, Which Killed 50

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chairman Arthur Stark and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein said, “We are outraged by the horrific attacks in the mosques in New Zealand.  We extend our condolences to those who have lost loved ones, and wish a speedy recovery to those who were wounded. Such outrages cannot be tolerated in any civil society. We hope that those who are responsible, and those who aided and abetted them will be brought to justice.  All people of good will must join in condemning this barbaric act.”

On Friday (15th) other Jewish organizations, including The Anti-Defamation League, The Zionist Organization of America, and the Jewish Community in Pittsburgh all condemned the attack and sent condolences to the Muslims of New Zealand wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews’ President Marie van der Zyl said, “We are horrified by this sickening terrorist attack against Muslims at mosques in New Zealand.  To the victims, the survivors and their families, together with Muslims around the world who have been targets of rising hatred, we express our absolute and resolute solidarity.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Friday (15th) both condemned the horrific attack which killed 50 Muslims in New Zealand Thursday (14th), and offered words of condolence from the Israeli people and wishes for a speedy recovery of the wounded.

In New Zealand on Friday (15th), many synagogues were closed due to security concerns and as an expression of solidarity with the country’s Muslim community.