Targeted violence against Jews throughout Israel continued to escalate in recent weeks. Two Palestinian terrorists killed four Israelis and injured eight others during morning prayers at a synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem today. The attackers brandished a gun and knives and were said to belong to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Three of the victims held dual Israeli-American citizenship.
On November 5th, a Palestinian man drove his car into pedestrians standing at a street car station in Jerusalem, the second such incident in two weeks. One border police officer was killed and 14 other people were wounded in the attack. The driver, Ibrahim al-Akri, was shot and killed. The government announced it would construct new concrete barricades at 20 hitchhiking and bus stops in the West Bank to help protect pedestrians.
Israeli security personnel stand outside the attacked synagogue in Jerusalem on November 18, 2014. (Photo: AFP)
Palestinian rioters continued to demonstrate in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and occasionally at the Temple Mount. At times, up to 1,300 Israeli riot police were deployed in Jerusalem’s Old City to establish checkpoints and quell the unrest. At a briefing to foreign officials in Jerusalem, the government released images of agitators constructing barricades, throwing rocks, and launching fireworks.
Jerusalem announced it would restart the controversial practice of destroying the homes of Palestinians who commit terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Israel’s parliament passed a law limiting the Prime Minister’s ability to release convicted Palestinian terrorists before their prison terms are up. The law will only apply to newly convicted criminals and terrorists, not to those already incarcerated.
Two Israelis were stabbed to death in separate terror incidents on November 10th. The first victim, border policeman Almog Yissocher Shiloni, was stabbed near a train station in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian man from Nablus who had entered Israel illegally. A few hours later, another manattacked three Israelis with a knife in the West Bank town of Alon Shvut, killing a 25-year-old woman. A guard shot and killed the assailant who had previously served more than four years in prison for throwing a firebomb at Israeli security forces.
Settlers in the West Bank set fire to a mosque in al-Mughayir, close to the city of Ramallah, on November 11th. The following day, a synagogue in the northern town of Shfaram was attacked with a Molotov cocktail, causing light damage to the building.
Israeli police arrested a border patrol officer as part of an inquiry into the killing of Nadeem Siam Nawar last May. Investigators believe that the officer may have used live bullets instead of rubber bullets when confronting Palestinian rioters outside an Israeli checkpoint, causing the death of two teens. A border police commander was also arrested for failing to report that live fire had been used.
The Egyptian military announced it would double the width of its security buffer zone with Gaza to 1km after discovering longer tunnels connecting the enclave with Sinai.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, one of the deadliest insurgent groups in Egypt, released a video of their attack on a Sinai military facility earlier this month that left 31 soldiers dead. The terrorists also claimed responsibility for bombing an Egyptian-Israeli-Jordanian gas pipeline in October.
Israel approved Cairo’s request to place more Egyptian troops in Sinai. The government will now deploy two additional infantry battalions and a fleet of attack helicopters to the area.
On November 8th, the Egyptian security forces announced they had killed 19 “terrorist elements” and arrested another 249 people since October 27th. Two days later, government forces killed four extremists during a raid by Apache helicopters over Sheikh Zuweid. Militants disguised as soldiers killed five off-duty security personnel at a fake security checkpoint on November 13th.
Naval smuggling routes into Gaza have become more attractive to criminals and terrorists, according to a senior Israeli naval officer. Since Egypt increased its destruction of tunnels by creating a new buffer zone, two ships have been caught picking up cargo bound for Gaza.
Fayez Abu Eitta, a local Fatah leader, speaks on the phone as he inspects the damage to his car in Gaza on November 7, 2014. (Photo: AFP)
Despite their decision to form a unity government earlier this year, tensions between Fatah and Hamas persist. Western intelligence sources suggested that, without the approval from the organization’s political leaders, Hamas’s military wing planted 10 bombs targeting Fatah rivals in Gaza. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah canceled a planned trip to Gaza after the explosions due to security concerns. Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan publicly endorsed dissolving the unity government, saying Fatah had not done enough to advance rebuilding in Gaza.
Israeli security officials reopened the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings on November 4th, following their brief closure in response to a rocket fired from Gaza. On November 10th, Israel allowed 420 truckloads of gasoline, diesel, cooking gas, and nine trucks of cement for UNRWA construction projects to enter into the Strip.
Mohammed Taha, a Hamas co-founder, died at the age of 77 in Gaza from heart complications.
Forbes rated Hamas as the world’s second wealthiest terror group holding approximately $1 billion, second only to the Islamic State.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman on November 14th to discuss ways to end recent Arab-Israeli unrest. Kerry praised Jordan’s constructive role in easing hostilities but Jordan’s ambassador still has not returnedto Israel. Kerry also said that now is not be the time to resume peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
The IDF established a new battalion tasked with monitoring the Jordan Valley. The light infantry unit should be operational by mid-2016.
The IDF has increased its presence in the Golan Heights in recent weeks as the al-Qaeda- linked Jabhat al-Nusra, gained control over most of the Syrian side of the the 43-mile border. Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris said that there have been at least 15 intentional attacks emanating from Syria since March, not including Syrian Army ordnance “spillover.” The general also predicted that Israel would be the target of more deliberate attacks.
Israel’s military deployed an Iron Dome battery near the northern coastal city of Haifa; according to the IDF, the deployment was part of routine security preparations and did not signal any imminent threat. However, Israeli military commanders have voiced concern about Hezbollah’s weapons arsenals in southern Lebanon.