Israel and the West Bank
The IDF said it has begun a criminal probe into the killing of an incapacitated Palestinian terrorist by an IDF soldier in the West Bank on March 24th. Video reportedly shows Yusri al-Sharif, 21, lying on the ground wounded after tried he to stab an Israeli soldier, with another unnamed soldier then shooting him in the head.
Israeli prosecutors plan to indict a Palestinian man living in the West Bank town of al-Khader for filing a false police report. The man said that Jewish youths had set his property on fire and had spray painted “Death to Arabs” on a wall near his home. However, authorities found no forensic evidence to substantiate the claims, which also failed to match other eye-witness accounts.
Soldiers with Israel’s elite Flotilla 13 unit held an exercise to simulate Islamic State terrorists taking civilian hostages on a boat. Missile boats and paramedics were also mobilized as part of the drill, which was held in the Red Sea near Eilat.
A Hamas delegation lead by co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar finished two weeks of talks with both the Egyptian government and political rival Fatah in Cairo and Doha respectively. Even after negotiations, Egyptian officials appear unwilling to ease their blockade on Gaza or open the Rafah crossing. Reconciliation talks with Fatah may have been more productive, with one senior Fatah leader saying Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will travel to Doha in May to meet Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal.
Beersheba District Court charged a 23-year-old Gaza man working for Islamic Jihad with hacking into the video signals broadcast by Israeli drones operating over Gaza. The indictment issued against Majd Oweida also stated that he tried to gain access to passenger lists from Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Arabic language media reported that Hamas increased border security between Gaza and Sinai in an effort to please Egyptian officials into loosening their border restrictions. However, the same article also suggests that six Hamas commanders recently defected from Hamas to join the Islamic State’s local affiliate.
The IDF deployed several Iron Dome missile interceptor batteries to southern Israel after temporarily stationing them in northern Israel.
Hamas launched a large military exercise involving more than 1,000 “police and emergency services personnel,” according to al-Arabiya. Loud explosions could be heard near the neighborhoods of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya, and Jabalia.
A Hamas-run court in Gaza sentenced two former PA security officers, Sami Nisman and Naim Abu Ful, to 12 and 15 years in prison for spying for the Palestinian Authority.
Egyptian authorities found and destroyed an almost 2-mile-long tunnel leading from Sinai into Gaza. At the entrance to the underground passageway, located in a house, security forces also found mortars and other weapons. One Egyptian source said the tunnel had been lined with a waterproofing material.
An Israeli tank fired an unarmed shell, striking another IDF armored vehicle during a military exercise in the Golan Heights on March 31st. No one was injured during the training accident but commander of the Division 162, Brigadier General Nadav Padan, stopped the drill.
Western media obtained a Canadian government report warning about the “escalation of terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula” and the growing risk to Canadian soldiers stationed with the UN Multinational Force and Observer (MFO) peacekeeping mission there. Officials noted concern that terrorists in Sinai had changed their objectives and had become more willing to attack multinational targets last summer, leading to sniper and mortar attacks on MFO personnel. The report explains that the U.S. has reinforced its contingent by sending 75 more troops, but other smaller bases, especially in northern Sinai, have been abandoned.
Three Egyptian officers and 12 other policemen were killed during a mortar attack on a checkpoint near the provincial capital of el-Arish on March 19th. The Sinai affiliate of Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement circulated on social media.
Israel will increase the height of its security barrier with Egypt, according to a report in Haaretz. The measure is primarily aimed at keeping African migrants from entering the country, after 200 crossed the fence last year up from 14 in 2014.