Home Frontline Defense Frontline Defense: June 16, 2020

Frontline Defense: June 16, 2020

Magen David Adom worker wears protective clothing as a preventive measure against the coronavirus (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)


Israel is currently facing a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. The health ministry said that the country’s infection rate on June 16 was 1.8 percent Israel has had 19,495 cases in total, 3,744 of which are currently being treated. 3,708 patients are in a stable condition while 36 cases are currently considered critical. 

The 11 fires that broke out in the eastern Negev were set intentionally, according to investigators, but had “nothing to do” with the incendiary balloons being inflated on the Gaza Strip side of the border fence that security personnel saw. According to an arson investigator, the fires “bore clear signs of arson, and have nothing to do with the balloons.”

Israeli Defense Forces from the Cyber Defense Unit (CDU) thwarted an Iranian cyberattack on key military supply chains. The CDU identified the threat early and initiated a covert operation to reveal the attackers. The unit was founded four years ago and is responsible for the security of Israel’s technology. 

West Bank

The Palestinian Authority (PA) made a counter-proposal to President Trump’s plan in which PA officials say a future Palestinian state would be demilitarized. PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh also said the authority would accept “minor border modifications” as well as an exchange of territory equivalent “in size, in volume, and in value.” The plan was submitted to four Mideast mediators, the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia. 

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, as well as several other Israeli officials, praised an unnamed IDF solider for saving a Palestinian man being attacked by several Israeli Jews in Hebron. The IDF arrested two Israelis on June 14 as a result of the incident.

Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, arrested 49-year-old Nizmi Abu Bakar for throwing the rock that killed Golani Brigade soldier First Sgt. Amit Ben Yigal. Yigal was carrying out an arrest in Yabed on May 12 when fatally wounded. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Gantz commented on the arrest with the latter welcoming the apprehension of the “despicable terrorist.”

The PA said on June 10 it will refuse tax revenue transfers from Israel as it continues to void agreements with Jerusalem. The tax revenue transfers represented 60 percent of the Palestinian budget in 2019 with that proportion expected to be larger in 2020 since the economic effects of the coronavirus closures have hindered donations to the authority.

PA forces uncovered and thwarted an attack on IDF troops in the West Bank. A terror cell planted dozens of pipe bombs near Jenin, along a route used by IDF soldiers when carrying out arrest raids. This comes in spite of the assertion by President Mahmoud Abbas last month that he would end security cooperation between the PA and Israel and the United States in response to Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). 

PA security forces have increased cooperation with Fatah armed groups as a result of Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to end coordination with Israel. The collaboration started as a result of a coronavirus outbreak when PA forces needed assistance to enforce lockdowns and other necessary health measures. The Tanzim and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are two of the Fatah divisions who have seen their influence increase the most as a result of this strengthened partnership. However, many West Bankers are not fond of this new status quo, many fearing the armed Fatah militias who patrol their streets.

Israeli security forces demolished 12 illegally constructed buildings in the Maoz Esther and Baladim settlements. 13 local youths were detained by the military as they clashed with the security forces during the demolition. The residents of both of the outposts are known to have extremists residents who have been involved in clashes with both the Palestinians and the IDF.


Israeli forces targeted several Hamas outposts on June 16 in response to a rocket launch into south Israel from the enclave. The projectile landed in the Eshkol region in an open field with no damage to property and no casualties reported. The Israeli military said in a statement that “in response to the rocket that was fired from Gaza into Israel earlier this evening, our fighter jets and tanks just targeted underground Hamas infrastructure and military posts.”

Israel allowed Qatar to deliver $50 million to the Gaza Strip in exchange for the immediate halt of the deployment of incendiary balloons from the Strip. According to a Palestinian report, Hamas stopped the use of the balloons, many of which started fires after floating over the boundary fence into Israel, as a result of Israel’s approval of the money.

Revelations that Iran spied on one of Hamas’s senior leaders, Musa Abu Marzouk, caused new tensions between the two parties. Iran has helped finance Hamas (Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement) over the years. As a result of the incident, Hamas’ leader, Ismail Hanieyh, brought the issue to the attention of the leader of Hezbollah, the Lebanese “Party of God,” founded, trained, and funded by Iran, and other Iranian leaders. Abu Marzouk has denied all of the reports so far, saying, “there is no truth to the claim being circulated in the occupation’s media.” Nevertheless, a Marzouk staffer suspected of spying was fired.

Ramadan Salah, the former head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement died on June 7 after three years in a coma. Shalah led the movement from 1996 until 2018 before entering the coma as a result of heart surgery. The Islamic leader was on the U.S. “most wanted list” with a $5 million reward for information regarding his location or activities.


Egypt is set to resume international flights to South Sinai, Red Sea, and Matrough which are the counties least impacted by the coronavirus. Health Minister Hala Zayed said on June 10 that the spread of the virus remains within the safety range expected from health officials. As of June 11, Egypt reports 38,284 cases, 1,342 deaths, and 10,289 recoveries from the virus.


According to Syrian media, Israel targeted four Syrian defense factories belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) where surface-to-surface missiles are manufactured. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that four of the nine casualties were Syrian. The operation occurred on June 11 and represents the first such mission since Benny Gantz became defense minister.

Lt. Guy Eliahu, a Golani Brigade officer, will be summoned to the head of the army’s northern command to discuss how he entered Syria without permission and killed two or three Syrians. The Golani officer has a history of misconduct and was involved in violence against Palestinians as well as a fatal road accident that caused the death of three Israeli soldiers in 2018. According to a source familiar with the matter, Eliahu “is an officer with no inhibitions, some of which border on criminal offenses.” 

JPC intern Sacha Warnod compiled this report.