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Israel and Gaza: How did we get here?

For months, there has been an escalation of violence along the security fence between Gaza and Israel, including violent riots and the most serious incident since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. In addition to the riots, Hamas operatives began carrying out a new kind of attack, using arson kites and incendiary balloons to set Israeli land ablaze. These incendiary devices heavily impacted Israel’s southern communities, burning more than 8,000 acres of Israeli land and setting about 11 fires each day.

During violent, Hamas-lead riots, a sniper from the Gaza Strip shot and killed IDF Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi. This lead to a wide-scale response, in which IAF fighter jets struck over 60 Hamas terror targets in a strategic campaign to significantly damage Hamas’ combat capabilities.

With tensions rising, it’s leading many to ask how the relationship between Israel and Gaza got to this point.

Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005 after years of attacks on Israeli civilians. All IDF posts were removed and over 9,000 Israeli citizens living in 25 communities were evicted.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was in office at the time, addressed the United Nations General Assembly, expressing hope for a better future for Gazan civilians. “The end of Israeli control over and responsibility for the Gaza Strip allows the Palestinians, if they so wish, to develop their economy and build a peace-seeking society, which is developed, free, law-abiding, and transparent, and which adheres to democratic principles,” he said.

Prior to being evicted, the Jewish communities in Gaza owned thousands of greenhouses and had a flourishing agricultural economy. Upon their eviction, 3,000 of these greenhouses were left to help kick-start Gaza’s economy. Unfortunately, shortly after Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, the greenhouses were looted and some of the equipment was turned into rockets that were subsequently fired at Israel.

Immediately after Hamas was elected into power in 2007, huge amounts of munitions were illegally smuggled into Gaza. This included 31 tons of military grade explosive materials and 14,000 rifles. Additionally, in the first year of Hamas’ reign, hundreds of rockets were fired at Israel. Israel’s Security Cabinet then declared the Gaza Strip a hostile territory.

In the years to follow, Hamas continued to misuse funds and supplies in Gaza. Over $120 million worth of concrete originally intended to develop civilian infrastructure was used to build terror tunnels to infiltrate Israel. These tunnels were used as early as 2006 in the kidnapping of IDF soldier, Sergeant 1st Class Gilad Shalit.

Since then, Hamas has continued to waste concrete on terror tunnels, and in the construction process, has killed more than 400 Palestinians, including at least 160 children. Attempts were made to smuggle weapons into Gaza via the Mediterranean Sea, which led to the imposition of a legal naval blockade. Additionally, rocket and mortar shell fire continued, inflicting wide-spread damage and trauma on Israel’s southern residents in particular, which lead to the development of the Iron Dome aerial defense system.

Today, the relationship between Israel and Gaza remains tense. Yet Gazan civilians are still allowed to enter Israel to receive medical treatment, pray, study, travel, and work on a daily basis. Israel regularly facilitates the transfer of humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, even in times of conflict, including during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

Hamas remains accountable for controlling the Gaza Strip, and continues to put its terror-based goals above the needs of its people. They insist on inciting violence and wasting vital supplies on terror activity. The IDF will continue to operate as necessary to safeguard the security needs of the State of Israel, and is ready to defend Israeli civilians and sovereignty.


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Israel Under Attack

Hamas began shooting projectiles at Israeli civilians.

In response, IDF fighter jets struck 12 terror targets in Gaza, including a factory used to manufacture parts for terror tunnels and concrete, a maritime terror tunnel shaft along the coast, and several terror sites in military compounds, among them rocket manufacturing facilities and a central logistical military complex.

The factory used to manufacture parts for terror tunnels was intended to be used as a hotel, but was overtaken by the Hamas terror organization in 2012. The factory manufactures parts for terror tunnels under the guise of civilian infrastructure.

In 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, senior Hamas members used the building as shelter, believing the IDF would not target a civilian hotel construction site. In this building, Hamas terrorists continued to plan fighting and command rocket launching units. Months later, in 2013, Hamas took over the site entirely, blocked the entrance, and began establishing a concrete factory under the guise of a civilian construction site. The factory manufactured concrete parts designed exclusively for terror tunnels, including reinforcements, flooring, and concrete arches, which have no civilian use.

Hamas operated engineering vehicles in the site, and loaded the parts clandestinely onto trucks covered with tarp, to be delivered to digging sites across the Gaza Strip. The factory stopped producing concrete during Operation Protective Edge (2014), but continued serving Hamas' war efforts – rocket launchers were placed in its vicinity and Hamas operatives resided in the site during the fighting.

The launch sites were dug adjacent to the structure, again believing it would not be an IDF target due to its civilian appearance. During the operation, four rockets were launched at Israel. Immediately after this, the factory resumed its regular activity and has continued to be a source of concrete parts for Hamas' terror tunnels. The open areas around the factory were also considered a "closed military zone" and Hamas used them to practice short and medium range rocket launching and briefly operated a tunnel digging workshop there.

The IDF strike was conducted in response to the shots fired at civilian engineering vehicles earlier today, and the multiple rockets launched from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory this evening. The Hamas terror organization continues to target IDF troops, security infrastructure, and Israeli civilians.

Early Thursday morning, IDF fighter jets targeted over 100 of Hamas’ strategic military sites. The strikes took place in ten of Hamas' military compounds throughout the Gaza Strip, and included manufacturing facilities, training complexes and advanced weapons and capability sites.

Among the targets were:

- Hamas headquarters in Jabalia, including dozens of military sites

- A military compound used by the commander of northern Gaza City, which included a maritime tunnel

- A Hamas outpost used by the Jabalia Battalion for urban warfare and underwater training

- A military compound of the Zaytun battalion used to store weapons and for terror tunnel digging

- A military compound of the East Jabalia Battalion used for training in urban warfare, and the site of a shaft leading to an terror tunnel complex

- A Hamas base in the northern Gaza Strip used for urban warfare training and rocket launching

- A compound of the Jabalia Battalion used for training and meetings of senior battalion commanders

- A military compound used by Hamas to store weapons and explosives. The site used to be home to rocket launching dugouts.

- Hamas military compound used by the Deir al-Balah Battalion, which is the site of a current tunnel digging operation

These strikes were conducted in response to the rockets launched from the Gaza Strip at Israel over the course of the evening and into the early morning hours.

“The important part is the decision making on the Gazan side, on Hamas’ side, and what they will try to achieve by firing rockets at Israeli civilians. I think that they are not furthering or promoting their own interest or the civilian interest in Gaza by escalating the situation, and by firing at Israeli civilians,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, Head of the International Press and Social Media Branch.

Hamas is responsible for the events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it and will bear the consequences for its actions against Israeli civilians and sovereignty. The IDF condemns terror activity and is prepared for a wide variety of scenarios while continuing to fulfill its mission to defend Israeli civilians.
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Ahead of 1 Billion Lawsuit, First National Online Campaign Accuses Facebook of Inciting Terrorism

NEW YORK,  An Israel-based civil rights organization launched its first-ever online campaign in the U.S. today to build public support for a pair of major lawsuits against the social media giant, with a provocative video leveling unprecedented charges that Facebook is inciting terrorism around the world.

The campaign, featuring a YouTube video (https://youtu.be/YfDSjoJDuxE) by Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, comes after the recent stabbing and car-ramming attack by an Ohio State University student, when investigators exposed the attacker’s Facebook rant urging people to follow the slain al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki.

That attack and video underscore Shurat HaDin’s lawsuits against Facebook, Cohen v. Facebook and Force v. Facebook, which are pending before Judge Nicholas Garafufis in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn. A hearing to decide whether those cases can proceed to trial is scheduled for January 19, 2017.


The video, “Who’s Behind Terror? Rewind!,” inspired by the movie “Memento,” opens with a slow-motion replay of a terrorist bomb attack in New York City, then rewinds time 10 minutes, then two hours, then 24 hours, then three months, to show the key moments when Facebook helped incite the terrorist to act.

“Facebook and other social media platforms have become a crucial component for international terror, the same as guns, bombs and money,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the founder of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center. “For years now, Facebook has continued to provide a platform for terrorist incitement despite repeated warnings. This has become one of today’s top global threats. Social media platforms want to believe terror has nothing to do with them and that they have unlimited immunity and can do whatever they want. We are going to put an end to it.”

Shurat HaDin’s first case against Facebook, Cohen v. Facebook, was filed in 2015 on behalf of 20,000 Israelis during the first weeks of the so-called “stabbing intifada,” after two Palestinians armed with a knife and gun attacked passengers on an Israeli bus. The case was originally named Lakin v. Facebook, but the case name was changed after one of the victims, Richard Lakin, succumbed to his wounds.

In this case, Shurat HaDin seeks to shut down terrorist pages on Facebook not because of their content but because by allowing this content, Facebook allegedly facilitates terrorism by providing services to terrorists. The case seeks an injunction forcing Facebook to actively monitor and block such pages, similarly to how banks block transactions with known terrorists.

In a second lawsuit, Force v. Facebook, Shurat HaDin seeks $1 billion in damages on behalf the families of five Israeli victims of the terrorist group Hamas. This case, under the U.S. Antiterrorism Act, charges Facebook with providing material support and resources to Hamas – which the U.S. has designated a “foreign terrorist organization” – in the form of Facebook services that the group used in carrying out terrorist actions.

“It is shocking that one could not transfer even one dollar to Hamas because banks know not to permit transactions with terrorists, but Hamas and known Hamas officials can open Facebook pages, and use Facebook to recruit terrorists and aggrandize terrorism,” said attorney Robert J. Tolchin, who represents the plaintiffs in Brooklyn as the local counsel for Shurat HaDin.

“Facebook’s sophisticated platform and services are used by terrorists for communication, logistics, intelligence, fundraising and even prestige,” Shurat HaDin said in filing the first lawsuit. “Facebook has the data and the capability to cease providing services to terrorists, and it has chosen not to do so.”



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Behind the Headlines: Palestinian incitement and terrorism

​​The recent series of attacks against Israelis is the direct result of incitement by radical Islamist and terrorist elements, calling on Palestinian youth to murder Jews. Inflammatory statements by Palestinian leaders amount to official incitement to violence.​

​The recent series of attacks against Israelis is the direct result of incitement by radical Islamist and terrorist elements, calling on Palestinian youth to murder Jews. The incitement includes the spread of false claims against Israel, in particular regarding the status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The culture of hate in the Palestinian media, schools and social networks, together with the statements of Palestinian leaders, has reached new and gruesome heights.

The Palestinian Authority, including its chairman Mahmoud Abbas, are using inflammatory Islamic rhetoric to spread false and malicious claims against Israel, and treat those who engage in the murder of Israelis as heroes. These statements amount to official incitement to violence and can only serve to exacerbate the situation.
Radical Islamists are bringing explosive devices, Molotov cocktails and other weaponry onto the Temple Mount, thus deliberately desecrating, damaging and endangering the holy site and turning it into a battle field. The militarization of a site revered by all should be universally condemned. The aim of these elements is to change the status quo and to prevent visits by non-Muslims on the Mount.
The status quo protects the right of Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount, as well as the freedom of all people, whether Muslims, Christians, Jews or others, to visit the Mount. Visits to the Temple Mount over the past year included nearly 4,000,000 entries by Muslims, about 200,000 entries by Christians, and about 12,000 entries by Jews.
Israel, for its part, is making every effort to restore calm. It guarantees freedom of worship for members of all faiths and is strongly committed to maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount. Israel has never made any attempt to change the status quo, and any claim to the contrary is a lie.
Israel also remains committed to dialogue with the Palestinian leadership and would like to see the renewal of direct peace talks as soon as possible.

Terror attacks in the past month


Following is a list of major terror attacks against Israeli civilians that have occurred since the Jewish New Year (13 September 2015). This is a partial list that does not include attacks thwarted by the security forces or the many instances of rock throwing and Molotov cocktails that did not result in very severe injuries.

September 13
Jerusalem: Rock attack at a car, on Erev Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), resulted in death of driver, Alexander Levlovitz. Four Palestinian youths arrested.

October 1
Near Nablus in Samaria: Rabbi Eitam Henkin (31) and wife Naama (30) murdered in a drive-by shooting while traveling with their four young children (aged 9, 7, 4, and 9 months). Security forces arrested members of Hamas cell responsible.


October 3
Jerusalem: Two killed in stabbing attack near Lion’s Gate. Aharon Banita-Bennet (22) was stabbed to death on the way to the Western Wall in the Old City on Saturday evening with his wife and two young children. His wife and two-year-old son were wounded. Rabbi Nehemia Lavi (father of seven), who came to the aid of the Banita-Bennett family, was attacked and stabbed to death. Police shot and killed the attacker.

October 4
Jerusalem: Moshe Malka (15) was stabbed and wounded on his way to prayers at the Western Wall. Terrorist was shot dead by security forces.

October 7
Petach Tikva: Knife attack at shopping mall wounded one man. The knife broke, preventing further victims. Bystanders apprehended the terrorist.
Gush Etzion, Judea, south of Jerusalem: A woman (38), driving from her home in Tekoa, was attacked by Arabs, who threw rocks at her and tried to drag her from her car. Lightly wounded, she succeeded in closing the car door and escaped.
Jerusalem: A Palestinian woman (18) stabbed a 36-year-old Jewish man at Lion’s Gate of the Old City. The victim, moderately wounded, shot and wounded the terrorist.
Kiryat Gat (southeast of Tel Aviv): A terrorist stabbed an IDF soldier and snatched his gun, then ran into a nearby apartment, where a woman was just returning home. She fought with him and managed to flee. The terrorist was killed by police.

October 8
Tel Aviv: Female soldier and three others stabbed. Terrorist was shot and killed.
Jerusalem: A yeshiva student (25) was seriously injured and another man lightly injured in stabbing attack near the light rail. Terrorist (age 19) arrested.
Kiryat Arba (Jewish town near Hebron, south of Jerusalem): Man seriously wounded in stabbing attack. Victim evacuated to Jerusalem hospital. Terrorist escaped.
Afula (town in Galilee): A soldier was wounded in stabbing attack. The terrorist was apprehended soon after.​

October 9

Samaria, northwest of Jerusalem: Five Israelis, three of them children, were lightly wounded by rocks thrown at their vehicle.
Jerusalem (Shmuel HaNavi St.): Jewish boy (16) was beaten and stabbed and lightly injured. Attacker (18, from Hebron in West Bank) was later apprehended by police.
Kiryat Arba: Terrorist stabbed a police officer (47) and tried to grab his gun. Other officers shot him.
Afula: Female terrorist tried to stab a security guard at the Central Bus Station. She was shot and wounded.


October 10

Jerusalem: (Sabbath morning) Arab (16) stabbed two Jewish men in their 60s near Damascus Gate, leaving them moderately and lightly wounded, respectively. The terrorist then attacked Border Police officers, who shot and killed him.
Jerusalem (near Damascus Gate): Palestinian (19, from Shuafat) stabbed two police officers. Nearby police shot and killed him, and accidently wounded a third officer. Officers in serious-to-moderate condition.
Jerusalem (Shmuel HaNavi St.): Bus driver lightly injured by stones thrown at the bus.
Gush Etzion (south of Jerusalem): Woman (53) lightly injured by broken glass when stones were thrown at her car.


October 11

Maaleh Adumim-Jerusalem highway: Police officer lightly injured when he pulled over a driver acting suspiciously, and the (female) driver set off an explosive device. Gas canister s were later found in the vehicle. The terrorist was seriously wounded.

Tzomet Alon (northern Israel, between Hadera and Afula): Four injured at bus station in a combined ramming/stabbing attack. Female soldier (19) in serious condition (as of 12 Oct still critical); girl (turned 15 that day) in moderate condition; two men (45, 20) in light condition. Terrorist first rammed his car into two of the victims, then got out and started stabbing. The terrorist (20, from Umm el Fahm in northern Israel) was apprehended with the help of bystanders.

October 12

Jerusalem: Stabbing attack foiled at Lion;s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. Terrorist (18, from eastern Jerusalem) was shot and killed.

Jerusalem (Ammunition Hill, northern Jerusalem): Border policeman was stabbed and lightly injured by a female terrorist (16). The officer managed to shoot and stop her, and she was evacuated to hospital.

Jerusalem (Pisgat Zeev in northern Jerusalem): Two terrorists (both teenagers) stabbed and seriously wounded a man (25) and a boy (13) riding his bicycle. Police shot and killed one terrorist and apprehended the second. The boy is in critical condition.

Jerusalem (8:30 pm near entrance to city): Terrorist on bus stabbed a soldier (19) and tried to grab his gun. After a struggle, the terrorist was shot and killed by a police officer.


October 13

Ra'anana (northeast of Tel Aviv): Two stabbing attacks in the morning, an hour apart: The first at a bus stop on a main street, in which a man (32) suffered light wounds; the attacker (from eastern Jerusalem) was subdued by passers-by and held until the police arrived. The second attack resulted in one seriously wounded and three lightly wounded; the terrorist was arrested.

Jerusalem: Two terrorists, both residents of the adjacent Jabel Mukaber neighborhood, boarded an Egged bus in East Talpiot in southern Jerusalem, one armed with a gun and the other with a knife. Two passengers (aged 60 and 45) were killed, 15 wounded, several seriously. One terrorist killed by police, second apprehended.

Jerusalem: Car ramming and stabbing attack at a bus stop on Malkhei Yisrael Street in Makor Baruch, a religious neighborhood. Rabbi Yeshayahu Krishevsky, 59, of Jerusalem was killed and five wounded. The terrorist, who was apprehended, is a resident of the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood who holds Israeli citizenship, was an employee of Israeli phone company Bezeq, and was using a company car to commit the attack.

Hamas praised the attacks, saying they are "a message to anyone who harms our holy places."


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