Israel and the West Bank
The condition of 16-year-old stabbing victim Israel Meir Nachumberg has improved, and he has been transferred from the intensive care unit. Nachumberg was stabbed on May 31 when a 19-year-old terrorist from the West Bank stabbed and critically wounded a 47-year-old man at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, and then attacked Nachumberg as he fled through the Arab market. There is no update on the condition of the older victim.
The IDF has announced its commitment to improving operations in the West Bank, specifically heightening their efforts in gathering intelligence and better preparing their troops for deployment in the area. The proposal includes a plan to increase its use of advanced technology, and five methods the army will use to improve training for infantrymen. This announcement comes after several incidents this year in which extremists in the West Bank attacked civilians and IDF soldiers, leading to multiple fatalities.
A recent Israel Defense Forces (IDF) report states that there were “various operational failures related to the operational discipline of the force” during an attack that took place in March in the West Bank. The incident led to the death of an Israeli soldier and a rabbi. Multiple soldiers were removed from their combat roles and officers were given notes on their actions during the event. The debriefing points to evidence that the soldiers were ill-prepared for their mission, and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi suggested that the combat soldiers did not perform up to expectations. This year has seen a wave of assaults against troops by West Bank residents, including a shooting in January that killed two Israeli soldiers.
A report from a Palestinian newspaper details how the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) attempted to bring down an IDF helicopter in Gaza in early May. The attack reportedly failed when an Israeli jet detected the PIJ operatives attempting to fire a missile at the helicopter and preemptively struck the target. The PIJ claimed responsibility for the attempted assault and named one of the deceased as a senior officer in the group’s air defense unit, Bilal al-Bina.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar expressed his gratitude at the end of May for Iran providing the terrorist organization with rockets to launch towards Israel. “Had it not been for Iran, the resistance in Palestine would not have possessed its current capabilities,” Sinwar stated. He cautioned that Hamas would target places as far away as Tel Aviv.
Hamas fired multiple anti-tank missiles at Israel during the latest round of fighting last month. IDF’s Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Hertzi Halevy says that only one missile hit a target, but went on to express concern for Israeli citizens. Incidents like this one and the continuing violent border protests could have severe implications for Israeli citizens living close to the border.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a 134-page report detailing several ongoing human rights violations against civilians in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Some of these transgressions, the report claims, could amount to war crimes. The reportedly abusive acts come in part as a result of an ongoing campaign against the ISIS affiliate in Sinai. HRW also states that from January 2014 and June 2015, hundreds of civilians have died due to the conflict. The Egyptian government has not released an official number of civilian casualties.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry released 351 prisoners following a presidential pardon on Sinai Liberation Day, which takes place on April 25. The ministry formed a committee to check the prisoners’ files and determine which ones would be eligible for release. Earlier in May, 3,094 prisoners were also released for Sinai Liberation Day, with an additional 346 prisoners granted conditional pardons. Another decree in May pardoned 560 prisoners, including prominent journalist Abdel Halim Qandil.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck several Syrian military positions between Damascus and Quneitra, near the Golan border. The IDF released the following statement: “…two rockets were launched from Syria to Israel, one landing within Israeli territory. In response, we struck a number of Syrian Armed Forces military targets. We hold the Syrian regime accountable and will firmly operate against any attempt to harm Israeli civilians.” Israel’s response reportedly killed 10 people, three Syrian soldiers and seven Iranian and Hezbollah militants, according to Syrian media.
Jewish Policy Center intern Catherine Goodwin compiled this report.