Israel says three ‘armed terrorists’ among 41 reported dead in Gaza border clashes

Fox News, by Greg Norman May 14, 2018:

At least three of the 41 Palestinians reportedly killed Monday in clashes ahead of the Jerusalem opening of the U.S. Embassy to Israel were “armed terrorists” caught trying to plant a bomb near the Gaza border fence, Israel’s military said.

More than 35,000 protesters amassed at a dozen locations along the security fence, with many engaging in skirmishes that pushed the death toll Monday to the highest in Gaza since a 2014 cross-border standoff between the militant group Hamas and the Jewish state, according to the Associated Press.

Gaza health officials told the news agency that 41 people so far have been killed in Monday’s violence, and at least 772 have been wounded.

May 14, 2018: Palestinian medics and protesters evacuate a wounded man during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip. (AP)

The relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv, a key campaign promise of President Trump, has infuriated the Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as a future capital.

“Moments ago, an IDF patrol foiled a bomb-laying attack by a cell of three armed terrorists near Rafah, close to the border,” the Israeli military said Monday. “This is a particularly violent protest point. The troops responded with fire at the terrorists. The terrorists were killed.”

Israel also said its aircraft targeted a Hamas post in Jabaliya after troops in the area came under fire. None of the Israeli soldiers were hurt.

“Rioters are hurling pipe bombs and firebombs at IDF troops, burning tires, throwing stones and burning objects, with the intention of setting fires in Israel and hurting IDF troops,” a member of the Israeli army was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying.

Monday’s demonstrations — dubbed the “Great March of Return” by Palestinian media — are reported to be part of a campaign led by Hamas to break the decade-old border blockade of the territory imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. Since weekly border marches began in late March, dozens of Palestinian protesters have been killed and more than 2,300 wounded in clashes.

Israel’s security service, Shin Bet, claimed Monday that Hamas is encouraging Palestinian civilians to flood the border, with their own gunmen waiting in the wings to break through if a fence is breached.

Shin Bet said it received that information during interrogations of members who already have been captured after crossing the security fence in recent weeks, The Times of Israel reported.

“There is a prohibition for Hamas operatives to approach the border, from a fear that they will be killed or captured by IDF troops, unless the security fence falls and then they must enter, armed, into Israel under the cover of the masses and carry out terror attacks,” the agency said. “From the information we have, it appears Hamas is encouraging and sending protesters to the border fence in order to carry out violent acts and damage security infrastructure.”

Shin Bet also claimed that Iran is providing funding to Hamas for these border flare-ups, but did not elaborate.

A senior figure in the group, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., said Monday that the border protests will continue until Palestinians have won back their rights.

“We will continue on this path until the rights of the Palestinian people are achieved,” Ismail Radwan said, according to the Associated Press.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said the army had set up additional “layers” of security in and around communities near the border to defend Israeli civilians in case of a mass breach. He said there already had been several “significant attempts” to break through the fence.

“Even if the fence is breached, we will be able to protect Israeli civilians from attempts to massacre or kidnap or kill them,” he said.

In the West Bank, several thousand people gathered in the center of Ramallah, while hundreds marched to the Qalandiya crossing on the outskirts of Jerusalem, where protesters threw stones at Israeli troops.

The U.S. said it chose today’s date for the embassy opening to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment.

But it also marks the anniversary of what Palestinians call their “nakba,” or catastrophe, a reference to the uprooting of hundreds of thousands who fled or were expelled from what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s independence.

Most of the casualties Monday were in the southern Gaza towns of Khan Younis and Rafah. Israeli forces were firing volleys of tear gas to disperse the crowds, and the sound of heavy gunfire could be heard. Sirens were constantly wailing as the wounded were evacuated on stretchers to nearby ambulances. Groups of young activists repeatedly approached the fence, but were quickly scattered by gunfire and tear gas.

In one of the border areas east of Gaza City, Mohammed Hamami, a 40-year-old civil servant, joined a crowd of hundreds of protesters, along with his mother and five children.

“Today we are here to send a message to Israel and its allies that we will never give up on our land,” he told the Associated Press.

Clouds of black smoke from burning tires was also seen rising into the air. Earlier Monday, Israeli drones dropping incendiary material had pre-emptively set ablaze some of the tires collected in advance by activists.

Protesters have used the thick smoke as cover against Israeli snipers perched on high sand berms on the other side of the border. The army accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover to plan or carry out attacks.

Leaflets dropped over Gaza by army jets warned that those approaching the border “jeopardize” their lives. The warning said the army is “prepared to face all scenarios and will act against every attempt to damage the security fence or harm IDF soldiers or Israeli civilians.”

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Making History In Jerusalem

Front Page Magazine, by Joseph Klein,

The United States is officially opening its Israeli embassy in Jerusalem today, making May 14, 2018 an historic day for the Jewish State of Israel. Other U.S. presidents have made campaign promises to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, only to abandon their promises in deference to the foreign policy establishment and “international” opinion. In moving forward to fulfill his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem, President Trump ignored the foreign policy establishment and “international” opinion, much as President Harry Truman did when he gave de facto recognition to the newly created State of Israel only eleven minutes after Israel’s proclamation of its independence.

President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner are representing President Trump for the opening of the new embassy. The Israelis are celebrating. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared at his weekly cabinet meeting, “President Trump promised to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and he did so. He promised to move the American Embassy to Israel and he is doing so. Of course we will all celebrate this day.”

President Trump’s decision, denounced not only by the Palestinians themselves, as expected, but by amoral government leaders and opinion makers all around the world, should not be so controversial. Each nation has the sovereign right to locate its own embassies wherever it chooses. The U.S. embassy will be located in West Jerusalem, not in any area claimed by the Palestinians to be part of their future “capital” in East Jerusalem. Moreover, President Trump clearly stated that U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is not intended to decide any final status issues regarding Jerusalem as a whole. Finally, the United Nations resolutions that the critics of President Trump’s decision rely upon to support their objections on “legal” grounds do little to help their case. The General Assembly has no legal authority under the UN Charter to require anything of the member states except payment of their annual budget assessments. The Security Council has huffed and puffed about so-called “illegal” Israeli settlements including in East Jerusalem and called upon member states to withdraw their embassies from Jerusalem, but did so solely in the form of completely non-binding resolutions.

President Trump did what he thought was the right thing to do, as President Truman had done seventy years ago when he said, “I had faith in Israel before it was established, I have faith in it now.”  President Trump was willing, in President Truman’s words when dealing with his critics regarding the Palestine situation, “to let them all go to hell.”

Unfortunately, it looks like there will be some hell to pay from the Palestinians before this week is over. On Sunday, which was being observed ahead of the embassy opening as Jerusalem Day by Israelis, the day was marred by clashes that broke out between Jews and Arabs on the Temple Mount. In order to keep the peace, Israeli police officers separated the two sides, and removed Jews from the Temple Mount who had allegedly broken the rules of conduct that ban all non-Muslims from praying or singing on the Temple Mount where Al-Aqsa Mosque is situated.

Of course, it is not enough for the Palestinians that the Israeli government forbids Jews to sing or pray at loud on what is the Jewish peoples’ holiest site, out of undeserved deference to Muslims’ sensibilities because of their mosque’s location on the Temple Mount. Palestinians want complete control of Old Jerusalem, including the entire Temple Mount and the area in which the Western Wall is located. Even that is not enough for many Palestinians. They are encouraged by their irresponsible leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who has said that Israel is a “colonialist enterprise,” to believe that the Jewish State of Israel is illegitimate. Millions of Palestinian descendants born years after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 are brought up with the fantasy that they have a so-called “right of return” to “homes” inside Israel, some of which were abandoned by their parents, grandparents or great grandparents seventy years ago.

Israel is preparing for mass Palestinian protests early this week along the Gaza border with Israel, bolstering its IDF forces and bringing in special firefighting squads according to a Debkafile report. The air space over and around Gaza has been reportedly closed by Israeli authorities. More intense violence than in past weeks is expected as Hamas leaders have called for waves of Palestinians to break through the border fence separating Israel from Gaza, the culmination of seven weeks of “Return Marches” demanding the so-called “right of return.” The opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, together with the 70th anniversary of what the Palestinians call the “nakba,” or catastrophe resulting from the creation of Israel as an independent state in what Palestinians still fantasize as their land, are likely to send the protesters into overdrive. “What’s the problem with hundreds of thousands breaking through a fence that is not a border?” Hamas’s Gaza head Yahya Sinwar asked rhetorically.

The Palestinian propagandists and their supporters try to portray the Gaza protests as the peaceful exercise of freedom of speech and assembly by unarmed Palestinian civilians. In truth, Hamas leaders and other Islamists are preaching violence and using civilians, including children, as human shields to carry out their jihad against Israel. Late last month, for example, a Gaza cleric Sheikh Musa Abu Jleidan preached violence when he said that the “Great Return March” is a “form of Jihad” that “does not eliminate the need for Jihad by the sword, by missiles, and by rockets. They go hand in hand.” He added that Jews “are the philosophers of terrorism and crime, people of treachery and deceit, who slayed the prophets of Allah. It is an honor for us, here on this blessed land, to have been chosen by Allah to fight them and to strike fear in them.”

A young Palestinian girl protesting at one of the Return March rallies absorbed the jihad message. She was heard exclaiming “Martyrs in the millions are marching to Jerusalem. Palestine forever! Jerusalem belongs to us, not to the filthy Israel.” Other protesters cheered her on, shouting “Allah Akbar.”

Any Palestinians marching to Jerusalem to oust Jews are not martyrs. They are usurpers. Historically, Jews have been living in Jerusalem continuously for more than three millennia. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any sovereign nation except of the Jewish people. In more recent times, Jews have constituted the largest single group of inhabitants in Jerusalem since at least the mid-1800s. Prior to the Jordanians’ illegal occupation, Jerusalem was an undivided city. Jerusalem is so again today, open to worshippers of all faiths. It is the Palestinians who seek to replicate Jordan’s temporary illegal occupation and division of Jerusalem and make it permanent, imposing an ethnic and religious cleansing of any Jewish residents in the Old City. President Trump’s bold decision, fulfilled this week, will go down in history along with his predecessor President Truman’s early recognition of the Jewish State of Israel.