Israel and the West Bank
Israeli police forcibly removed around 750 residents and activist from the unauthorized Jewish settlement of Amona in the West Bank on Feb. 1, 2017. Israel’s highest court ordered Amona be cleared because it is situated on private land belonging to Palestinian Arabs.
The Israeli Defense Ministry announced that it completed construction a 6.2-mile section of a security barrier running from Tarqumiya checkpoint in western Hebron, southward to Meitar. Lawmakers fast-tracked the project last year after several infiltrations and terrorist attacks.
A Hamas source told Israel Radio that the terrorist organization had turned down a proposed prisoner swap. According to the report, Bilal Razaineh, a 24-year-old Hamas operative, would have been traded for one of two Israeli civilians held in Gaza.
Israel’s parliament approved a bill legalizing about 3,000 housing units in settlements on private Palestinian land in the West Bank. The fate of the controversial move, which was not supported by the country’s attorney general, will likely be decided by Israel’s Supreme Court.
Police in east Jerusalem seized more than $50,000 during a series of 14 nighttime raids targeting families who had received compensation from Hamas to carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis.
An IDF tank opened fire on a Hamas outpost in Gaza on February 6 in retaliation for a high trajectory projectile launched from the enclave into the Negev region. Air raid sirens sounded, but no damages were reported from the firing.
The IDF’s Southern Command conducted a training exercise that simulated Hamas commandos raiding Israel via Gaza’s tunnels and from the sea. The five-day drill incorporated hundreds of Israeli troops and reservists.
A UN development engineer pled guilty to aiding Hamas in an Israeli court following his arrest last August. Wahid Abdullah al-Bursh will serve seven months for transferring more than 300 tons of construction materials to the group. Separately, an Israeli court accepted a plea bargain for Maagad Ben Juwad Oydeh, for hacking into video broadcast from IDF drones. He faces up to nine years in prison.
Egypt’s Third Field Army killed 14 suspected jihadists during the second week of an ongoing operation in central Sinai. Security forces have also destroyed three car bombs and 10 explosive devices they have come across during the campaign.
Forces loyal to the Syrian government continue their advance in the Golan Heights, displacing rebels from Damascus southward to the border village of Quneitra. Arab media sources say a new offensive targeting opposition forces in Beit Jinn will start soon, helping the regime of Bashar al-Assad control all but the southern border areas.