The Hamas tunnel collapse fiasco continued on Monday, as, just following the IDF announcement of discovering and destroying a terror tunnel reaching 90 feet into Israel, there were reports from Gaza of yet another tunnel collapsing, this one on the Egyptian-Gazan border, News 0404 reported. The collapse happened after the Egyptians performed another one of their routine flooding of the area with sea water. Seven Hamas terrorists are missing.
According to News 0404, Hamas officials are convinced Israel has developed new technology to detect the tunnels, and that it feeds the relevant data to the Egyptians.
Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett responded on Monday to the IDF announcement of discovering yet another Hamas terror tunnel (Cleared for Release: New Terror Tunnel Into Israel Discovered) with an all out attack on the Israeli security apparatus.
“Our worst fears have come true,” Bennett said in an email statement. “Over the two years that passed since Operation Protective Edge (2014), Hamas has not been deterred from re-intensifying its efforts, as we have warned consistently.”
Bennett described Hamas as having defined “a national project to re-dig the terror tunnels reaching deep into Israeli territory. It’s been a high national goal for them, and it’s about time we internalized the idea. The aim of Hamas is to surprise us with a multi-front event of penetration, killing and kidnapping, a kind of Yom Kippur war of terror.”
Bennett insisted that the obligation of the Netanyahu government remains to provide security to the residents of the south, and to prevent such an all out attack with every means available — and not rely on the conceptual notion that Hamas is “so-called deterred.”
Finally, Bennett urged an immediate retaliatory action to follow the tunnel discovery, since said tunnel is, by definition, a Hamas violation of Israeli sovereignty.
Back in 2014, during and after the war, Bennett received much criticism for his claim that it had been he who, by his sheer perseverance, managed to sway the IDF command and the defense minister towards making the effort to discover and demolish the terror tunnels. But in November, 2014, a Channel 2 investigative report confirmed every one of the embattled rightwing leader’s assertions.
The Uvda program determined that it had indeed been Bennett who repeatedly raised the subject of the tunnels at cabinet sessions throughout the summer of 2014, while Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon objected to launching an operation against the tunnels.
“If there is anything that a person who is familiar with the protocols of the cabinet sessions can see,” journalist Ilana Dayan reported, “it is that Minister Naftali Bennett demands, again and again, to launch an operation against the tunnels, and he hears an answer that more or less repeats itself, from Defense Minister Ya’alon: the tunnel threat is one we can live with, it need not be defined as a target, at least not in this round of fighting.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyhau eventually let the nation know that Hamas was planning a massacre on Rosh Hashana 2014, and that those plans had been averted by the IDF ground operation that destroyed the terror tunnels. But in the summer, Netanyahu had been backing his defense minister against the annoying Bennett’s proclamations.
Nothing has changed in that respect, and the IDF and defense minister, with the PM’s backing, will likely evade the need to punish Hamas now for their newest terror tunnel.
Security personnel have released for publication the fact that a new terrorist tunnel was discovered leading from Gaza well into Israeli territory.
The tunnel, dug after the completion of 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, was identified about a week ago in the area around the southern Israeli Jewish community of Holit.
“The IDF has uncovered and neutralized a Hamas terror tunnel in southern Israel,” the IDF Spokesperson said in a statement Monday morning.
Newly-dug tunnel leading from Gaza into Israel.
The tunnel extended approximately 150 meters into Israel, emerging between Kerem Shalom and the site from which IDF soldier Gilad Shalim was abducted by Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror group in June 2006, sources said.
Map of new Hamas tunnel.
“This tunnel, the first to be found since Operation Protective Edge, was built by Hamas in order to infiltrate Israel and execute terror attacks against the people of the southern communities,” IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner noted in a sharply worded statement Monday morning. “The IDF will continue its counter terror efforts to uncover and neutralize Hamas’ offensive tunnels.
The tunnel was discovered late last week by IDF soldiers and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) intelligence agents along with engineers who were using specialized technological equipmentk. The forces “uncovered and neutralized an offensive tunnel infiltrating Israel from the Gaza Strip,” Lerner said.
“The ugly truth is that Hamas continues to invest millions of dollars to build tunnels of terror and death,” the spokesman continued.
“The tunnel uncovered in Israel demonstrates once more Hamas’ warped priorities and continued commitment and investment in tools of violence. This tunnel exposes Hamas’ abhorrent intentions to attack the men, women and children of southern Israel.”
Residents of the Jewish communities in the Gaza Belt area have been deeply worried for months, pressuring defense officials to search the area around their homes and communities due to the digging noises they kept hearing under their floors.
The body of axe-wielding Arab terrorist Ibrahim Baradiyeh has somehow been returned to his family, despite a direct order from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prohibiting the return of any more terrorist bodies to their families.
Baradiyeh attacked an IDF soldier in Judea Thursday afternoon in the Arab village of El Aroub, located along Highway 60 between the Gush Etzion junction and Kiryat Arba.
Sources in the Palestinian Authority told the Hebrew-language Ynet site that the body was returned by Israel on Friday. A few hours later, the IDF Spokesperson said in a statement that “due to a misunderstanding” the terrorist’s body had been returned. “The return of terrorists’ bodies is carried out in accordance with the decisions of the political echelon,” he said.
Baradiyeh was a member of the Hamas terrorist organization who served time in an Israeli prison.
Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) have strongly disagreed with this position of holding terrorists’ bodies, which is one that supported by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.
Israel’s defense establishment appears to be preparing military forces and civilians for a possible outbreak of hostilities either in the north or the south sometime soon.
A major civil defense drill – the largest since the 2014 war with Hamas – was held this past Thursday in southern Israel at Kibbutz Erez, barely a mile from Gaza.
Civilian response teams, IDF soldiers, Magen David Adom emergency medical teams, police officers, firefighters and others participated in the drill, Channel 2 reported Friday.
The exercise simulated an attack by Hamas terrorists on an Israeli kibbutz which included abduction of Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers overpowering the terrorists in the kibbutz dining hall.
According to the report, recent IDF preparations to meet a possible conflict have included the infusion of additional forces along the Gaza border. In addition, the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported Thursday that four IDF bulldozers leveled ground along the security fence a few meters inside Gaza, east of the city of Rafah, which straddles the enclave’s border with Egypt.
Nevertheless, defense officials continue to say that although Hamas is gathering its forces within Gaza, the terrorist group does not appear to be preparing for a direct war with Israel in the near future.
While the IDF is preparing to meet whatever threat may present itself in the south, forces are also making preparations in the north for much the same reason.
The IDF has beefed up its forces in northern Israel along the border with Lebanon and in the Golan Heights, near Syria. A major military drill began in the north on Wednesday and continued through the end of the week.
The latest round of peace talks between opposition forces and the Syrian government started Wednesday (April 13) in Geneva but by the weekend had achieved nothing.
The Syrian regime has escalated the fighting near Aleppo, and local residents who had not yet fled are now making an effort to flee while they can. Opposition forces are accusing Syrian government chief mediator Bashar Ja’afari of not being serious about seeking a solution to the five-year civil war.
United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura is trying to keep the talks focused on political transition but with intensified battles continuing, the opposition is losing its resolve.
In addition, Da’esh (ISIS), Al Qaeda, Army of Islam and Jabhat Al Nusra (Al Nusra Front) radical Islamist terror organizations are not at the table. Since they control at least half of the territory in Syria, even if negotiations succeed in resolving the issue of who governs Syria, the question still remains whether there is anything geographically, territorially left to govern.
Al Nusra controls the territory closest to the sole border crossing between Israel and Syria, at Quneitra. Last Tuesday (April 12) Syrian sources told international media that Da’esh (ISIS) now controls 90 percent of the Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus. The community is home to Arabs from the Palestinian Authority and is also a stronghold for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization.
So far, the capital, Damascus is still in the hands of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Hillary and Bernie locked horns, clashed, yelled and smashed into each other almost literally last night in Brooklyn, NY. There were cheap shots and there were deep cuts. It can be safely said that the behavioral gap between the Democratic and Republican debates have narrowed significantly, so neither side can claim the high ground any longer. As to the portion of the debate in which we were most interested, US-Israeli relations, we must agree Hillary made us feel a little safer. Sanders started off from the point of view of B’Tselem and J Street, while Hillary at this point is a little to the right of J Street. After last night’s debate, if you’re a Democrat who cares about Israel, we advise you to buy an industrial size laundry clip, put it on your nose and vote for Bill’s wife. Not because we endorse her, we really really don’t, but she scares us a little less than Bernie does.
And now, to what they actually said last night about how they’d like to finally bring peace to the region…
Blitzer: Senator, let’s talk about the U.S. relationship with Israel. Senator Sanders, you maintained that Israel’s response in Gaza in 2014 was, quote, “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.”
What do you say to those who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit?
Sanders: Well, as somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate.
But — but what you just read, yeah, I do believe that. Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks, has every right in the world to destroy terrorism. But we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.
Heckler: Free Palestine!
Sanders: Now, if you’re asking not just me, but countries all over the world was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was, and let me say something else.
Sanders: And, let me say something else. As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel, in the long run — and this is not going to be easy, God only knows, but in the long run if we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.
Sanders: So what is not to say — to say that right now in Gaza, right now in Gaza unemployment is s somewhere around 40%. You got a log of that area continues, it hasn’t been built, decimated, houses decimated health care decimated, schools decimated. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people.
That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think…
Blitzer: … Thank you, Senator…
Sanders: …to an approach that works in the Middle East.
Blitzer: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Senator Sanders that Israel overreacts to Palestinians attacks, and that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel must, quote, end its disproportionate responses?
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Clinton: I negotiated the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in November of 2012. I did it in concert with…
Clinton: President Abbas of the Palestinian authority based in Ramallah, I did it with the then Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi, based in Cairo, working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli cabinet. I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages.
They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. And, so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers and they called and told me, I was in Cambodia, that they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anybody to talk to tell them to stop it, I flew all night, I got there, I negotiated that.
So, I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist tact, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself.
That does not mean — that does not mean that you don’t take appropriate precautions. And, I understand that there’s always second guessing anytime there is a war. It also does not mean that we should not continue to do everything we can to try to reach a two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians the rights and…
Blitzer: … Thank you…
Clinton: … just let me finish. The rights and the autonomy that they deserve. And, let me say this, if Yasser Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the Late 1990s to the offer then Prime Minister Barat put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years.
Blitzer: Thank you, Senator, go ahead — go ahead, Senator.
Sanders: I don’t think that anybody would suggest that Israel invites and welcomes missiles flying into their country. That is not the issue.
And, you evaded the answer. You evaded the question. The question is not does Israel have a right to respond, nor does Israel have a right to go after terrorists and destroy terrorism. That’s not the debate. Was their response disproportionate?
I believe that it was, you have not answered that.
Clinton: I will certainly be willing to answer it. I think I did answer it by saying that of course there have to be precautions taken but even the most independent analyst will say the way that Hamas places its weapons, the way that it often has its fighters in civilian garb, it is terrible.
I’m not saying it’s anything other than terrible. It would be great — remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people.
Clinton: And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza.
So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.
Blitzer: Thank you, Secretary.
Sanders: I read Secretary Clinton’s statement speech before AIPAC. I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people. Almost none in that speech.
Sanders: So here is the issue: of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long-term there will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people.
That is what I believe the world wants to us do and that’s the kind of leadership that we have got to exercise.
Clinton: Well, if I — I want to add, you know, again describing the problem is a lot easier than trying to solve it. And I have been involved, both as first lady with my husband’s efforts, as a senator supporting the efforts that even the Bush administration was undertaking, and as secretary of state for President Obama, I’m the person who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israel.
There were only four of us in the room, Netanyahu, Abbas, George Mitchell, and me. Three long meetings. And I was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.
I was absolutely focused on what we needed to do to make sure that the Palestinian people had the right to self-government. And I believe that as president I will be able to continue to make progress and get an agreement that will be fair both to the Israelis and the Palestinians without ever, ever undermining Israel’s security.
Blitzer: A final word, Senator, go ahead.
Sanders: There comes a time — there comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.
Clinton: … you know, I have spoken about and written at some length the very candid conversations I’ve had with him and other Israeli leaders. Nobody is saying that any individual leader is always right, but it is a difficult position.
If you are from whatever perspective trying to seek peace, trying to create the conditions for peace when there is a terrorist group embedded in Gaza that does not want to see you exist, that is a very difficult challenge.
Blitzer: Senator, go ahead.
Sanders: You gave a major speech to AIPAC, which obviously deals with the Middle East crisis, and you barely mentioned the Palestinians. And I think, again, it is a complicated issue and God knows for decades presidents, including President Clinton and others, Jimmy Carter and others have tried to do the right thing.
All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue.