Israel’s concessions to Hamas are just the prelude

Israel’s concessions to Hamas are just the prelude

Six rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel on Sunday. First, a bit after midnight, five rockets landed in open areas in the western Negev. Then the sirens sounded again in the northern Negev, but it turned out that the rocket fired had landed in Palestinian territory.

Despite the fire – Islamic Jihad was apparently responsible for the first volley – Israel on Sunday morning opened the Erez Crossing (for Gaza residents with exit permits), as well as the Kerem Shalom crossing (for the movement of goods), and allowed fishing to resume off the Gaza coast.

Haaretz Weekly Episode 20Haaretz

The government is prepared to go far to achieve quiet in the south until the April 9 election. Not a single official announcement – by the Israel Defense Forces spokesman or the Prime Minister’s Office – has been issued about easing conditions in the Strip. The Defense Ministry wouldn’t even answer a question about how large the fishing limits off Gaza are.

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Israeli voters will have to make do with the general statements made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, who said Israel is “prepared for any scenario” in the south, or the slightly more detailed remarks by the Likud campaign spokesman, who told Army Radio, “If there’s no choice, we may launch a military operation.”

The operation, one assumes, will be launched by the State of Israel and the IDF, not Likud headquarters. But the trend is clear; chances of a military operation before the elections don’t seem great unless Hamas insists on dragging Netanyahu into one. Netanyahu seems to believe that a conflagration on the Gaza border could jeopardize his success in the elections. Plenty has been written in recent years about his lack of faith in a large-scale military operation in Gaza.

A masked Palestinian boy reacts to tear gas fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking Land Day and the first anniversary of a surge of border protests, at the Israel-Gaza border fence east of Gaza City March 30, 2019.A masked Palestinian boy during a protest marking Land Day and the first anniversary of a surge of border protests, at the Israel-Gaza border fence east of Gaza City, March 30, 2019.\ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS

The Israeli easing of restrictions was a response to Hamas’ relative restraint in the demonstrations along the border fence on Saturday, during which three young men were nevertheless killed by army fire, during incidents that included attempts to damage the fence and cross it. Hamas, for its part, is meant to stop the violent nightly disturbances along the border and reduce the throwing of grenades, explosive devices and the launching of incendiary balloons and kites. Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar declared, however, that the March of Return would continue every Friday as planned.

But the main issue on the agenda relates to the package of economic steps that will be declared for the Strip after the election. Here the ideas will have to be combined with “the deal of the century” that the U.S. administration is meant to propose for the Israeli-Palestinian track. It seems like one of the ideas being considered is to take the plan’s Gaza appendix and implement it first.

Many of the proposals being mentioned now to rehabilitate Gaza were raised more than two years ago, in what was dubbed the “Poly plan,” after former Israeli Coordinator of Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav (“Poly”) Mordechai.

At the time there was talk of injecting about $1.5 billion into Gaza, mostly from the Gulf States, but with American and European support. Among the proposals were: Establishing industrial zones for Palestinian labor in Egyptian Rafah; building solar farms along the Gaza border; the upgrading of the Gaza’s gas and electricity infrastructure with Israeli assistance; the construction of desalination plants; the construction of a short railway connecting the Erez checkpoint with northern Gaza City (which would allow swifter passage of goods through Ashdod Port), and possibly constructing a dock for the Palestinians at the El-Arish Port in Sinai.

Now these ideas are again on the agenda, since, after nearly two years of delays, it seems the Trump administration is close to actually submitting its peace plan. This, even though the Palestinian Authority has declared from every possible platform, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the Arab League conference in Morocco on Sunday, that the plan is dangerous, it favors Israel, and cannot be accepted.

Palestinians demonstrate to mark the first anniversary of the March of Return protests, Israel-Gaza border, March 30, 2019.Palestinians demonstrate to mark the first anniversary of the March of Return protests, Israel-Gaza border, March 30, 2019.AFP

However, if the administration is determined to try, it could influence the Israeli political arena. Netanyahu may now be labeling the Kahol Lavan party as “the weak left” and declared over the weekend that he wouldn’t appoint Benny Gantz defense minister in his government. But the circumstances could change after the election. Just as Gideon Sa’ar was once enemy No. 1 in the Prime Minister’s Residence and now appears at Netanyahu’s side in Likud election posters, Netanyahu may need to seek a more moderate coalition if U.S. President Donald Trump is serious about his peace proposals.

Meanwhile, it’s becoming clearer why Egypt is so willing to go out on a limb to reach an agreement in Gaza that could help Netanyahu safely get through the elections. Trump announced that he has invited Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi to visit the United States soon. Their meeting will take place only a few days before the Egyptian parliament is meant to vote on controversial changes to the country’s constitution that would allow Sissi to remain president until 2034.

Sissi’s opponents were hoping for international pressure to foil this process but Trump, by inviting Sissi to Washington, is doing the opposite. And who is Egypt’s biggest advocate in the United States? Why Netanyahu, of course; just as the American media reported that the Israeli premier helped reduce the tensions between the Trump administration and the Saudi royal family after it was revealed that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

When we add to this the many reports in foreign media about Israeli air strikes in Sinai in the service of the Egyptian struggle with the Islamic State there, one can only guess at the depth of the alliance between Jerusalem and Cairo and understand why Egypt is investing so much in achieving a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas.

File Photo: Iron Dome intercepts a rocket from Gaza, March 28, 2019.File Photo: Iron Dome intercepts a rocket from Gaza, March 28, 2019.Ilan Assayag


National Union of Israeli Students objects to deepening gender segregation

National Union of Israeli Students objects to deepening gender segregation

The National Union of Israeli Students on Sunday came out against a new plan to extend the segregation of men and women in academic institutions.

The plan calls for changes that would ease the criteria that allow gender-based segregation, with the opening of separate graduate programs and a dramatic reduction in the oversight of the Council for Higher Education on programs for ultra-Orthodox students.

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According to the union’s head, Shlomi Yehiav, “The proposal crosses red lines on its way to funding separate education systems, based on gender and sectors.”

Students are joining the harsh criticism of the proposal voiced by senior officials at the finance and justice ministries. The new plan is being spearheaded by the head of the council’s Planning and Budgeting Committee, Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats.

In recent discussions, Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber has warned that the significance of the proposed changes is “the granting of extensive and far-reaching permission to exclude women,” which will be demanded not just by the ultra-Orthodox, but by other groups that prefer segregated studies, such as national-religious Jews. According to different sources, Zilbershats announced that she did not accepted the justice ministry’s position and was asking for a meeting with Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, apparently in an attempt to bypass Zilber. The main points of the new plan were revealed in Haaretz last Thursday.

A steering committee at the Council for Higher Education that is dealing with increasing the number of ultra-Orthodox students was expected to hold its first discussion of the new plan on Sunday. A document explaining the opposition of the student union says that in contrast to current policies, the new plan “does not provide a balance between the need to provide equal opportunities for ultra-Orthodox men and women and the extensive infringement of equality and human dignity, leading to gender segregation and the exclusion of women in public spaces used by male and female students, as well as by administrative and academic staff.”

“This proposal disrupts the balance between ultra-Orthodox students and the rest of the student body” says Yehiav. “Its principles are contrary to agreements and balances we reached after lengthy negotiations on this topic only two years ago, in May 2017. We have no choice but to object to the majority of the proposal’s clauses.”

Student representatives claim that “there has been much pressure over the last year, demanding to widen the current definition of people entitled to study in the segregated ultra-Orthodox programs, adding secular people who have adopted religion and graduates of religious institutions who have taken core subjects [such as English and math]. This will lead to expanded gender segregation and to a different mix of students, which will negatively impact the original plan of increasing accessibility for ultra-Orthodox students.”

Including a new category of students will leave the ultra-Orthodox at a disadvantage, say student representatives, leading to a larger number of dropouts. They say that there is no support for Zilbershats’ claim that many groups are left out by the current definition of suitability, which is based on the high school students attended.

Student reps warn that “recognizing segregation as a cultural need will make it difficult for graduates to integrate into the job market after graduation. The program could actually become a hindrance to finding employment, missing the realization of its intended objective.”

Student representatives add that opening these programs to “born-again” students, could “remove any obstacle to demands for gender segregation by anyone claiming cultural considerations. This opens the door to future demands for segregation in academic institutions, followed by state institutions and the workplace.”

Senior officials in the treasury and justice ministry are critical of Zilbershats’ plan. Treasury representative Ido Sofer said that changing the definition of who is suitable for these programs, such that only cultural considerations remain, will lead to other sectors demanding special educational programs, depending on origin, nationality and gender. Zilber said, “You can’t artificially increase the number of people entitled to join these programs by turning to populations that don’t meet the criteria.”


‘MAGA’ Hat-Wearing Assailant Attacks Man With Sword

‘MAGA’ Hat-Wearing Assailant Attacks Man With Sword

A man in a pirate costume wearing a red “Make America Great Again” slashed another man’s hand with a sword Friday night in San Francisco after the pair got into a verbal dispute, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

The incident happened around 9:50 p.m. outside a popular skating rink in the city’s Western Addition. Police originally said the victim was wearing a MAGA hat but changed their statement Sunday to say it was the suspect who was wearing the hat.

Scott Sweeney, 24, told the Chronicle the assailant was shouting homophobic slurs at him.

“In my mind I didn’t think it was a real sword until we came out later and police were on the scene and there was blood and the hat on ground,” he said.

Robert Rueca, a police spokesperson for the SFPD, said the victim was stabbed after he approached the suspect.

The MAGA hat has become a source of contention since President Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election.

Just last month an 81-year-old New Jersey man was assaulted during an attack stemming over his MAGA hat.

The man was shopping at a supermarket when the scuffle took place.


Donald Trump Jr. Obliterates Biased Media Over Russian Investigation Coverage

Donald Trump Jr. Obliterates Biased Media Over Russian Investigation Coverage

Ashley (Kimber)

As we’ve said many times before, the implications of the Russian investigation are far-reaching and nefarious.

No one knows this better than Don Jr.

When news broke that he had allegedly met with some Russians to commit evil, dastardly deeds, the media and internet LIT UP with speculation about him – and some pretty awful things were said.

He is now speaking out against the media that took joy in not only attacking our President with some entirely made-up narrative, but everyone around him as well.

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According to Daily Wire:

Trump Jr.’s interview came after Attorney General William Barr sent a letter to Congress over a week ago that revealed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation did not find that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and that there was not enough evidence to pursue charging the president with obstruction of justice.

Speaking on whether he thought Mueller’s investigation wanted to find President Donald Trump guilty of crimes, Trump Jr. said: “I think so because they didn’t find anything, but the reality is there was nothing there to find. Now I don’t believe for one second that there’s not one person on that team whose dream it would not have been to take down Donald Trump — I stand by that 100 percent.”

Trump Jr. wasted no time going after the media over its non-stop negative coverage of the investigation in which they often ignored the ties the investigation had to people on the political Left and what triggered the investigation to begin with.

In fact, Judge Jeanine Pirro went so far to say that those who triggered the investigation should now be investigated themselves.

He does, however, feel that some in the media were trying their best to be objective in a sea of biased information:

“I think there were some people that tried to actually be fair — when they were actually fair you’d see the other side just try to just obliterate them, right, even their own following. So you know, I think there were a couple of people that did good reporting, and I don’t mean you know conservative reporters,” Trump Jr. said. “I mean actually people on the other side that were at least unbiased or try to look at it objectively… They lost their following, they get ratioed to heck, you know, it became a business model for most media to attack Donald Trump and to buy into this narrative. And if you didn’t you upset a lot of people, you risked your career, and you risked other things.”

“And so, the people who just bought into this hook, line, and sinker, who were selling it every day… They lied to the American public for two years,” Trump Jr. added. “They did a terrible disservice to this country, to journalism as a profession. I think they’ve done irreparable damage to the faith that the average American is going to have in terms of mainstream journalism. I think it’s a blight on our republic on democracy and on our Constitution — that’s not going to come undone very quickly.”

Meanwhile, people like Jake Tapper don’t think networks like CNN did “anything wrong.”

The state of American media an absolute disgrace.

Israel Police dismiss left-wing activist’s complaint because of his political views

Israel Police dismiss left-wing activist’s complaint because of his political views

A police officer has been recorded dismissing a complaint by a left-wing activist due to the activist’s political orientation.

“He can report as many incidents as he likes,” the policeman said in a telephone call two weeks ago, but “there’s no point in going there.” He also called the complainant, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, “the biggest anarchist in Judea and Samaria,” referring to the West Bank.

Ascherman, a well-known left-wing activist, called the Binyamin police station on March 18 to report that settlers had trespassed on private Palestinian land near the West Bank settlement of Rimonim. The station said it was sending someone to the scene.

Sometime later, a policewoman who identified herself as Keren called from the station to ask Ascherman for directions to the site. She connected him via conference call to Avi Illouz, the policeman en route to the site.

When Ascherman directed Illouz to a road “that bypasses the settlement to the east,” Illouz replied, “I don’t know of any settlement near Rimonim.” Ascherman said he meant Rimonim itself, and Illouz responded, “Oh, that’s not a settlement, that’s a community.”

Ascherman said he wouldn’t dispute the point and continued giving Illouz directions. He also described the truck that had trespassed on the Palestinian lands and said he had photographed it.

Illouz then asked Ascherman to file a complaint, saying that was the only remaining course of action, “because the vehicle has already left the site.” But that conclusion was based solely on Ascherman saying he could no longer see it, and Ascherman himself wasn’t at the site, only nearby.

Toward the end of the conference call, when Illouz thought Ascherman had already hung up, he began talking to his colleague. “Keren, my oh my, don’t you know him? Don’t you know who he is? He’s the biggest anarchist in Judea and Samaria.”

“We know him, so what?” Keren replied. “He’s allowed to report incidents.”

“No problem, he can report as many incidents as he pleases,” Illouz said. “As far as I’m concerned, the vehicle has left the site and he was told to file a complaint. There’s no point in going there.”

At that point Ascherman, who was still on the line, interrupted, saying, “Avi, it’s embarrassing that you’re talking about me like that.” Illouz replied, “Heaven forbid, I’m not talking about you like that. I simply know you,” and hung up the phone.

Ascherman never did file the complaint, saying he was later told that only the Palestinian landowner could do so. Nevertheless, he said, had Illouz arrived at the scene quickly, he could have seen the vehicle for himself and run its license plate. Moreover, the law requires the police to open an investigation any time they know a crime has been committed, even if no formal complaint is filed.