Dozens of wet suits intended for the Hamas Navy SEALS were captured on Monday by the crossing authority at the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel into Gaza, before they entered the Hamas controlled territory, the Crossing Authority at the Defense Ministry reported.
The suits were hidden in a shipment of sports clothing and equipment. The wet suits were confiscated and an investigation to locate the perpetrators has been launched.
One of the smuggled wet suits / Courtesy Crossing Authority, Defense Ministry
In the past Hamas has introduced its Navy SEALS unit, and during the 2014 war a few divers from this force were able to penetrate into Israeli territory at the Zikim beach just north of the Gaza border, but were identified immediately by IDF watchers and were eliminated.
In 2014 Hamas revealed its Navy SEALS special operations force in a video paying tribute to one of the unit’s fallen commanders.
The makers of a Gaza TV candid camera show in honor of the month of Ramadan were wondering how would rank and file Gazans respond if they realized that there are a couple of Israelis standing and walking in their midst. The concept was funny enough, and the two actors, Chouikh and Abu Zubaydah, depicting the hapless Zionists were equipped with a visual aid, just in case their subjects didn’t get the idea from their mix of broken English and Arabic — they each had an unmistakable, blue and white Israeli flag printed on their shirts. And so, with the hidden camera rolling, the two brave actors showed up in different parts of Gaza City, in front of a variety of astonished local men of all ages.
The funniest reactions were those of irate Gazans who grabbed the provocative Israeli before them and started beating him up, and the canned laughter loved those scenes. Some of the violent responses immediately followed the appearance of the blue Star and David between two parallel lines; others emerged following an exchange with the actors, in a clothing store, on a soccer field, on the street in front of a warehouse. Each time, the actor under attack, occasionally under a mob attack, would start yelling, “It’s a hidden camera” and urged the crew members to save his life.
But there were less violent, and more introspective reactions, too, when the subject would enter a lengthy argument with the two actors over their proposal that he become Israeli, for instance, because Israel is a mighty superpower. Unaware of being on camera, several subjects stood up to declare their fealty to their nation and their faith, expressing their anger at the provocation.
In one exchange, early on, one of the actors tries to speak Hebrew to a subject, who is older and therefore versatile in the language. What develops is a strange dialogue between a faux Israeli who can barely finish a sentence in Hebrew, and a Gazan who speaks fluent Hebrew. The actor asks, “Ma shlomekh,” how are you, except in the wrong declension, using the female form. His subject forgives the mistake, answering, “Barukh Hashem,” as many Israelis would.
Despite the obvious rage many in the video, especially the younger ones, unleash at the mere sight of an Israeli avatars, it is clear that Israel, Israelis and their own identity in relation to the Jewish State are central to the culture and the communal psyche in Gaza. The fact that the video makers manage to treat the tension over the subject matter with humor, albeit lowbrow humor, suggests there may be more under the shallow surface of hatred and denunciations, including a longing for a time when the sound of Hebrew in the streets also represented prosperity, more personal safety and probably more humor.
It’s a hidden camera, I’m telling you. Hidden camera!
It’s a hidden camera, I’m telling you. Hidden camera!
If you were concerned that Hamas and the PLO would be uniting to present an even bigger threat to Israel’s security, you can breathe easy this weekend, as reconciliation talks between the two groups in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday ended on a sour note, with Hamas blaming the PLO for the failure, Ma’an reported.
Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement that PLO officials did not complete the day’s scheduled meetings and withdrew during the second session. He blamed the PLO leadership entirely for “failing” Saturday’s meeting, because they had no “political will to achieve reconciliation.”
PLO Spokesman Usama al-Qawasmi said his delegation had headed to Doha resolved to end division and forge partnership and democracy on the way to forming a national unity government.
A previous national unity government had collapsed recently, having proven to be one only in name.
Al-Qawasmi insisted the Doha meetings have shown that Hamas is “not ready yet for national unity and political partnership.” He stressed that the PLO would continue its efforts to end division between the two groups, and continue “calling upon Hamas to head towards real national unity.”
The current round of talks between the PLO and Hamas — third so far — began on Wednesday in the Qatari capital with a focus on strategies for implementing a reconciliation agreement. In March, the two groups also held reconciliation talks in Doha, with both delegations also discussing implementations of a reconciliation agreement.
The two groups have been on the outs with each other since their violent conflict in 2007, shortly after Hamas’s 2006 victory in the general elections in the Gaza Strip. Since then the two groups have repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliation, and neither side has held democratic elections.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) on Thursday signed an order temporarily preventing two Arabs, Mesbah Mesbah Abu Sabih Sabih and Mohammed Yassin Sabah Yassin, from leaving Israel.
Minister Deri released a statement saying he exercised his authority to prevent these individuals’ exit in light of information he received that their departure would pose a threat to national security. The two Palestinians were allegedly planning to incite violence in Jerusalem as well as to meet with terrorists abroad.
Abu Sabih Sabih, a resident of Jerusalem who is a prominent Hamas activist and a leader of the Al-Shabab Al-Aqsa organization that aims to “defend” the Temple Mount from Jews and other non-Muslims, was planning to travel to Jordan.
As to Yasin Sabih, who is suspected of involvement in terrorist activity, Israeli security suspected that he would present a national security threat outside Israel. There was also concern that his departure from the country would be used to promote unrest in Jerusalem, as well as in Judea and Samaria, via the al-Hirak al-Shabab youth movement.
The ban will hold for at least one month and may be extended to as long as six months.
The still new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) on Wednesday delivered a clear message to Hamas: if you mess with Israel again — it would be your last round of fighting, since Israel would collapse the organization.
A senior Defense Ministry official delivered the message via the media following a briefing he had given military reporters. “A confrontation with Hamas is unavoidable and therefore it must be the final one in the Strip — the final confrontation for the Hamas regime in the Strip,” the senior spokesperson said, directing his message to the terrorist government in Gaza.
As to the northern front, the same senior official said war with Hezbollah is not expected soon, suggesting the organization’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has no interest to draw Israel into a war, since it’s clear his group would sustain a heavy blow in such a confrontation.
Meanwhile, Minster Liberman’s takeover at Defense has not calmed down the new eruption of Arab violence in Judea and Samaria, with a rise of 27% in stone and Molotov cocktail throwing incidents around Samaria. Shomron Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said in a statement that there has been an escalation in the number of terrorist acts on Hawara road last month, with 11 terror attacks on the road in the past two months alone.
“If there’s no clear policy of a painful blow to the attacker and to his support environment, these events will only increase,” Dagan warned. “We demand that government treat these cases with a firm hand and act decisively so that we won’t have to continue accompanying our injured to hospital, if not worse.”
At a session headlined “Israel in a Turbulent Middle East: Strategic Review & Intelligence Assessment” held Wednesday at the 2016 Herzliya Conference, Maj. Gen. Herzl (Herzi) Halevi, Chief of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate warned Israel’s opponents against initiating a conflict, saying, “I am sure that had Nasrallah or any of our enemies known our military capabilities they wouldn’t risk additional conflict.”
Halevi discussed Israel’s challenges and opportunities in today’s middle east, saying “there are a lot of people who live in the Middle East with no electricity. Looking at the GDP per capita or unemployment rates it is noticeable that very big gaps have formed between us and our neighbors. It should not make us happy – A poor Middle East is a hotbed for terrorist organizations.”
“The Game board in the Middle East has changed,” he added. “Instead of few states, there are now many players. The transition from nation states to organizations is very significant. There are no good and bad guys, and players on the field change their identities.”
Halevi continued to discuss the new ways in which conflicts and wars are formed in the Middle East, in what he calls Dynamics of Escalation’. “We live in an era in which it is most likely for wars to begin even though neither side is interested in it,” he explained.
Regarding Iran, Halevi said: “The nuclear agreement was a great achievement for Iran, allowing them to be accepted among the world’s nations and we believe they will honor [the nuclear deal] for the first few years. At the same time, Iran is investing great efforts against Israel. Iran is supporting the three main threats Israel faces: Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad – in fact, they support 60% of [the threat]. It is [a case of] a Shiite nation giving money to Sunni organizations – they would do that to hurt Israel.”
Regarding Lebanon & Hezbollah, Halevi said, “We have no offensive intentions in Lebanon. We do not want a war but we’re ready for one more than ever. No army has had more intelligence on their enemies as we do about Hezbollah today.”
“The next conflict will not be easy. Hezbollah is suffering heavy casualties in Syria but also experiences significant achievements, and in this process they learn a lot and gain access to new means of combat.”, said Halevi. “Iran is sending weaponry to Hezbollah – some of it gets so Syria, but some of it stays in Lebanon. Syrian industries have resumed the production of weaponry for Hezbollah, and neither the world or Israel should accept it – it could escalate the next conflict.”