May 16, 2021
Special Edition

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Supports Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Brig.-Gen. Esmail Qaani, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, phoned Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and vowed to continue to support the Palestinian "resistance."
    Palestinian sources expressed concern that Qaani's promise to continue supporting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad could undermine efforts to reach a new ceasefire with Israel.
    According to the sources, the Iranians do not want the U.S. or Egypt to take credit for ending the fighting.
    They also expressed fear that Iran was seeking to instigate unrest in the West Bank in order to undermine the Palestinian Authority.
    See also IRGC Commander: Israel Completely Surrounded by Resistance Front (Tehran Times-Iran)

UAE Demands Hamas Stop Rockets Attacks or Face Halt in Investments (i24News)
    The UAE has reportedly threatened Hamas it will cease all infrastructure and economic investments in Gaza if it fails to come to a ceasefire agreement with Israel in the near future.
    "If Hamas does not commit to complete calm, it is dooming the residents of the Strip to a life of suffering. Its leaders must understand that their policies are first and foremost hurting the people of Gaza," a UAE official told the Israeli financial daily Globes on Saturday.
    See also Hamas Jeopardizes International Aid - Danny Zaken (Globes)
    With the Gaza economy strengthening due to a wave of international infrastructure initiatives, with Israel's approval, what made Hamas risk everything and start firing?
    The immediate result of the fighting is the halting of all those infrastructure projects. All the donor countries are delaying transfers of funds because of the violence, as is the World Bank.
    A military situation assessment source told Globes that Hamas was trying to set things alight in the West Bank as well, but that the result was a few more firebombs, perhaps attempts at terrorist attacks, but no mass involvement.
    The main reason is the lack of desire for any escalation that will hurt the reasonable economic situation of the Palestinians in the West Bank in comparison with Gaza.
    A senior associate of PA President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian street understands that Hamas' militant populism leads to harsh results.

Video: What Can You Do in 15 Seconds? (Israel Defense Forces)
    Israelis living near Gaza have only 15 seconds to take shelter from Palestinian rockets. Would you make it?
    See also Video: Father Shields His Newborn Baby as Rockets Explode Overhead (Israel Defense Forces)
    Put yourself in this father's shoes. You're driving with your newborn baby. Suddenly, you find yourself under rocket fire. As rockets explode, your only thought is to keep your baby safe.

Police Believe Arab Assailants Responsible for Firebomb that Wounded Arab Boy in Jaffa - Josh Breiner (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli police believe that the perpetrators of Friday's firebomb attack in Jaffa that wounded a 12-year-old Arab boy were Arabs who mistook the house for one owned by Jews.
    Four other homes were targeted in the same area on Friday night - all owned by Jews.
    The boy is in serious condition with burns on his upper body.

Firebombs Found on Roof of Mosque in Jewish-Arab City of Lod - Noa Shpigel (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli border police said they found 15 firebombs on the roof of a mosque in the city of Lod.
    On Saturday, a 15-year-old Arab boy was shot and lightly wounded by police near a mosque in the city as he was trying to throw a firebomb at a community center.

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What Is the Best Way to Drive a Wedge between Jews and Muslims? Start a War - Fleur Hassan-Nahoum (Media Line)
    Hamas and its perpetual backer Iran have been looking for an excuse for a confrontation for a while now.
    They have watched helplessly as the Abraham Accords flourished with game-changing normalization between Israel and the Gulf States, and they have seen how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been downgraded to the bottom of everyone's priority list.
    So, what is the best way to drive a wedge between Jews and Muslims, between Israel and the Arab world? Start a war, do it on Ramadan when religious fervor is high.
    Here we go again. Needless deaths for a Hamas political campaign against Fatah and Iran's proxy war with the West.
    I pray for peace but most of all for better leaders for the Palestinian people that may someday present the truth to them - that Israel is not going anywhere, and the only way forward is peace.
    The writer is a deputy mayor of Jerusalem.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • President Biden Reaffirms His Strong Support for Israel's Right to Defend Itself Against Palestinian Rocket Attacks
    President Biden spoke on Saturday with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, reaffirming his strong support for Israel's right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. He condemned these indiscriminate attacks against towns and cities across Israel.
        They also discussed the current tensions in Jerusalem and expressed their shared desire for Jerusalem to be a place of peaceful coexistence for people of all faiths and backgrounds. (White House)
        See also President Biden Tells Mahmoud Abbas that Hamas Must Cease Firing Rockets into Israel
    President Biden spoke on Saturday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to convey the U.S. commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Palestinian partnership. President Biden also stressed the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel. (White House)
  • EU Leaders Condemn Hamas Attacks
    EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter that she "condemns arbitrary attacks by Hamas against Israel." Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said Thursday he had "confirmed EU support for Israel's security and condemned Hamas' arbitrary firing of rockets" in a conversation with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
        French President Emmanuel Macron also expressed sympathy with the victims of attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups in talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Macron has said Israel had the right to defend itself. (Norway Today)
  • Hamas Rockets Are Killing Palestinians Too - Jonathan Sacerdoti
    Israel insists that the airstrikes on Saturday which destroyed the Al Jala tower in Gaza, which housed offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press, did not target a "media center" as was widely reported. Their intelligence revealed that the tower was used by Hamas, and to a lesser extent by Islamic Jihad, for three purposes.
        First, it housed the offices of their military intelligence, which were used for military purposes against Israel. Second, Hamas' research and development were undertaken there, with their experts operating to develop military weapons to use against Israel. Third, there were "highly advanced technological tools in or on the building which Hamas has used in fighting against" Israel.
        IDF spokesman Lt.-Col. Jonathan Conricus explained that "out of respect to civilian non-combatants and journalists," notice was given of the impending airstrike, despite that giving Hamas and Islamic Jihad time to salvage some of their equipment. Hamas does everything it can to embed its own infrastructure within civilian infrastructure. And some of the targets Israel is attacking are indeed houses or apartments.
        Since Monday, Israel has sustained 2,800 rocket attacks from Gaza with larger warheads and extended ranges. Four million Israelis are now in the range of Hamas rockets. So far, 430 Palestinian rockets have fallen short, landing inside Gaza. Hamas is not only murdering Israeli civilians, but also innocent Gazans. Naturally, Hamas blames the deaths on Israel, rolling the numbers into the tally they provide. (Spectator-UK)
        See also Video: IDF Fells 12-Story Gaza Tower Housing Hamas Assets - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Man Killed by Palestinian Rocket in Tel Aviv Suburb of Ramat Gan - Anna Ahronheim
    Almost 300 Palestinian rockets were fired at southern and central Israel on Saturday, while 40 landed inside Gaza. Dozens of rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Several homes in Israel sustained direct hits from rockets. An Israeli man, age 55, was killed in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. Other Palestinian rockets fell in the Arab-Israeli town of Taibe and near the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Tulkarem.
        Ten civilians and one soldier have been killed in Israel since Monday. 564 people have been injured, 6 seriously. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Ramat Gan Resident Describes Gaza Rocket Strike - Moshe Cohen
    The Palestinian rocket that struck the center of Ramat Gan caused heavy property damage to dozens of apartments. Natalie, a local resident, said, "Luckily, my husband and I went into the bomb shelter. We heard a loud explosion and the house shook....Our apartment was full of glass and was damaged....I went out into the street and then I saw scenes from war movies. Destruction, broken glass and a car going up in flames."  (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
  • Heavy Rocket Fire from Gaza Continues - Judah Ari Gross
    Palestinian terror groups in Gaza fired massive volleys of rockets at central and southern Israel after midnight Saturday, including 55 rockets fired at Tel Aviv. Additional salvoes were launched at Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon and the communities surrounding Gaza. The IDF said a "very good percentage" of them were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.
        According to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, the death toll among Palestinians reached 139 on Saturday, with over 1,000 wounded. The IDF says some deaths were caused by Palestinian rockets which landed in the Strip. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Foils Infiltration Attempt across Lebanon Border
    The IDF said Saturday it foiled an attempted infiltration across the border from Lebanon into northern Israel on Friday. A number of Lebanese were spotted digging in the ground, cutting the border fence with Israel, and entering Israeli territory late Friday night. IDF troops fired shots near the group, who escaped back into Lebanese territory. In a search of the area, soldiers found explosive devices.
        The infiltration attempt came hours after dozens of Lebanese demonstrated along the border, setting fire to the Israeli border fence near Metula. Some of them cut the fence, broke into the Israeli side and lit a fire, prompting IDF tanks to fire several warning shots. One man described as a member of Hizbullah was killed. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians Attempt to Ram Soldiers in West Bank
    A Palestinian man attempted to ram Israeli soldiers with his car near Dahariyya Junction in the southern West Bank on Saturday night. The soldiers killed the attacker.
        On Friday a Palestinian attempted to ram a soldier and then got out of his car and tried to stab him at a military post near Ofra in the West Bank. Soldiers killed the attacker. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel's Goals in the Gaza Fighting - Ron Ben Yishai
    IDF operations in Gaza have four main goals: Bring back Israeli deterrence; hit and destroy as much as possible anything that allows Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to fight, from infrastructure to fighters and commanders, including senior Hamas commanders; deal a severe blow to Hamas and PIJ's rocket production capabilities and prevent them from posing a threat for years to come; and maintain the IDF's legitimacy to act in self-defense and create support of Israel, especially among democratic Western countries. (Ynet News)
  • Gaza: A Proving Ground for the Next Israel-Hizbullah War - Haviv Rettig Gur
    Hamas has already achieved its main strategic goal from the fighting - to sideline Fatah and become the preeminent power within the Palestinian national movement. On Tuesday, Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh declared "victory" in the fighting. Yet with each building demolished in Gaza, Hamas becomes more vulnerable to the accusation leveled by Palestinians in previous rounds of fighting that it had dragged Gaza into yet another military adventure in the service of its own narrow interests.
        Hamas believed it had prepared well for the new round of fighting, constructing vast underground tunnels and facilities to protect its forces and other military assets from airstrikes, and developing the ability to fire massive barrages of over 100 rockets at a time to overwhelm Iron Dome. Yet the IDF's massive bombardment of that underground infrastructure on Thursday showed Hamas that instead of creating a safe space for its forces, it may have instead created a convenient way to target them without endangering Gaza's civilians.
        The Middle East is watching closely as events unfold in Gaza. Some of the keenest of those observers, Israel knows, are enemies far more dangerous than Hamas. On Israel's northern border, Iran-armed Hizbullah sits on a stockpile of rockets buried in South Lebanon's towns that dwarfs Hamas' arsenal by an order of magnitude. Hamas miscalculated the Israeli response because it did not realize that response would be geared to ensuring Hizbullah doesn't make the same miscalculation. (Times of Israel)
  • When Hamas Fires Missiles at Israeli Homes, Forget Nuance - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Influential voices in the media and popular culture tell us to see all wars as mere madness in which the combatants are to be equally condemned. But at the core of the effort to promote nuance about the conflict between Israel and Hamas is something that is fundamentally dishonest. The point of this kind of commentary is to depict the Palestinians as the more sympathetic underdogs who are being abused by the Israelis.
        Over 100 Palestinians have reportedly died in Gaza as the result of strikes by the Israel Defense Forces against Hamas positions. Many are Hamas operatives responsible for the attacks on Israel. Others were killed by Hamas rockets that fell short and landed on their own people. But what is important is that Arab civilians were not and are not targeted by the IDF.
        If a greater number of Palestinians die, it is because their Islamist rulers in Gaza think that is an optimal outcome, because it helps besmirch Israel's reputation. If they cared about saving lives, they would build bomb shelters for their citizens. Gaza, which has what may be one of the world's most elaborate and extensive tunnel systems, has shelters, but they are for the rockets Hamas shoots at Israel and those who fire them.
        When Islamist terrorists rain down missiles on Israel, it's not enough to talk about complexity or to pray for peace. The only moral thing to do is to denounce the lies, not to talk about restraint from both sides. If you care about justice, and the lives of Jews and Arabs, you have to support efforts to defeat Hamas, not appease or reward it. Those who cannot grasp this or who cling to ideological talking points about privilege, aren't expressing compassion or even neutrality. They are aiding and abetting murder. (JNS-Algemeiner)
  • How Israelis Now View a Two-State Solution - Herb Keinon
    Most Israelis - even those who would like to see a two-state solution - do not view it as remotely possible, at least not for the foreseeable future. Much too often, Israel's friends fail to understand how events that traumatize the country - such as the ones the country is currently experiencing - are not simply erased or forgotten when they end. This all has an impact on how Israelis look at the world.
        People just don't forget missile alert sirens every few minutes sending them scurrying to shelters, they don't forget the insecurity felt when running to get their kids into a safe room, they don't forget the sense of helplessness that accompanies it all. Nor do they forget that some of their neighbors sided with their enemies and turned on them.
        Hamas has so far fired more than 2,000 rockets indiscriminately at Israel, causing 11 deaths, injuring dozens and causing substantial harm to property. Imagine what things would look like if there were no Iron Dome.
        Some abroad wonder what happened to the Israel that they remembered and idealized, the Israel of the kibbutzim, Gold Meir, Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin. Reality intervened - a tough and often brutal reality that forced people to adjust their view, to reassess what they thought was and was not possible. Israelis adjusted their thinking in the face of changing reality. That tough and brutal reality is hitting again now with unusual intensity and will shape the psyche of the nation for years to come. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Envoy to Dublin Says Criticism of Israel Is Unjust - Hugh O'Connell
    Israeli ambassador to Ireland Ophir Kariv said on Friday that his wife and son at home in Modiin, a town halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, are "running in and out of the safe room" as Hamas has been firing hundreds of rockets from Gaza.
        Kariv believes the issue is not his government's response but the "massive terrorist attack on Israel" that "appears to be taken quite lightly here [in Ireland] sometimes." He said that Israel is going to "painful efforts" to try and avoid civilian targets and casualties. "If we speak specifically about Palestinian civilians, they are innocent victims, and they are victims first and foremost of Hamas, because what Hamas is doing there is a double war crime," he said. "First they fire at Israeli civilians and at the same time they are using their own citizens as human shields, and this is something that cannot be accepted."
        Kariv rejects parallels to historic conflicts with Britain in Ireland. "It's not a foreign land, it's not someone who goes to explore the world, find a new place, and take it or just crosses an area of sea in order to expand. This is a land with 3,000 years of Jewish history, a very profound one, so the parallel in this sense is totally false."  (Independent-Ireland)

Almost Nothing You've Heard about Evictions in Jerusalem Is True - Avi Bell and Eugene Kontorovich (Wall Street Journal)
  • The narrative of Israel's critics connects Hamas' current onslaught to eviction proceedings in Israeli courts concerning a few properties in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
  • The truth about Sheikh Jarrah is that it involves an ordinary property dispute between private parties. The Jewish claimants' ownership of the few plots of land has been confirmed repeatedly in court, following laws that apply equally regardless of ethnicity. Israeli courts have gone out of their way to avoid evicting the Palestinian residents who haven't paid rent for half a century.
  • In the case now before Israel's Supreme Court, the owner is an Israeli corporation with Jewish owners whose chain of title is documented back to an original purchase in 1875. Until 1948, the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was home to both Jewish and Arab communities. Then Jordan invaded Israel and occupied half of Jerusalem, expelling every one of its Jewish inhabitants and seizing their property.
  • This case has nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. The only discrimination in the legal treatment of Sheikh Jarrah property is historic, by Jordan, and against Jews to the benefit of Palestinians.
  • The plaintiffs have spent four decades in court seeking to recover possession of the properties. In the latest lawsuits, the courts ruled that four of the eight defendants were squatters with no legal rights to the land, and the remaining four were descendants of tenants who had never paid rent. Nevertheless, Israeli courts have treated the Palestinians as "protected tenants," and would shield them from eviction indefinitely if they paid rent. They have refused to do so.
  • Israeli courts adjudicate property disputes in Jerusalem between Arab parties, or by Arabs against Jews, with no protest. There is only one objection in this case: the owners are Jews. The manufactured controversy this time is an attempt to pressure Israel effectively to perpetuate Jordan's ethnic cleansing - in the name of human rights.

    Avi Bell is a professor at the University of San Diego Law School. Eugene Kontorovich is director of the Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason University School of Law. Both are scholars at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem.

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