News Nosh 11.13.18

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Quote of the day:
"Each side tries to convince itself that it is deterring the other side, and vice versa. Hamas is starving, with its back to the wall, receiving $15 million protection money in cash via Israel, happy with itself and then wakes up the next morning to find a Zionist gang in its backyard. 'These Jews are crazy,' Hamas politburo chief Yahya Sinwar and his men say to themselves. 'They discount us. There is no choice, they have to be deterred.' They bury their dead and shoot an anti-tank missile on a bus of soldiers and 200 rockets into (Israeli) towns.
"Israel is the same, just the opposite. 'We only just gave them money, and they are already shooting at us,' the Israelis say, raising the stakes. Because everyone in this story deters everyone, so no one is deterred from anything."

--Maariv's political commentator Ben Caspit writes a fascinating piece in today's paper (fully translated below).*

Breaking News:
Gaza on the Brink: Palestinian Factions Said to Agree to Cease-fire at Egypt's Request
Israeli security cabinet meeting enters sixth hour. Six Palestinians said killed over past 24 hours as Hamas threatens to extend range of rocket fire. (Haaretz and Ynet. See more in 'News' section.)

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Non-stop fire - After midnight: (Israeli) critically wounded by direct hit on building in Ashkelon
  • Hero without a name (photo of Military Intel officers carrying the coffin of Lt. Col. M., who was killed in secret operation inside Gaza Strip)
  • New details about the heroic operation to rescue the (commando) force
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
In contrast to the IDF’s assessment, Hamas did respond to the killing of seven of its men Sunday night by IDF commandos who were on a secret mission three kilometers deep inside the Gaza Strip. That response - an ‘unprecedented barrage’ of rockets - its consequences and the sorrow expressed over the unnamed IDF intel commander, who was also killed in the operation, were today’s top stories along with the drama over the second round of elections taking place today for mayor of Jerusalem.

Lt. Gen. M. 41, cannot be identified, not his name, not his photo, not which special IDF intel unit he served in and not where he lives. Even his family did not know about his work, and that he holds a senior position in the army. But the newspapers. the Prime Minister and the President said he was a super hero.

Yedioth’s Yossi Yehoshua reported that the undercover force of some 7-8 soldiers that Lt. Col. M. led was driving a local food vehicle three kilometers deep inside the Gaza Strip Sunday night, when it reached a Hamas-manned checkpoint. Maariv’s Ben Caspit gave a revealing account of what happened when the Hamas force, suspicious of the real identity of the group, asked the IDF force to identify themselves. (See Ben Caspit’s excellent piece translated fully in Commentary/Analysis below). Lt. Gen. M. opened fire first to save the rest of his force. From the different reports it’s not clear who killed the seven Hamas fighters: Caspit suggested the Hamas fighters were killed when Lt. Col. M. opened fire first, thereby saving his men. According to Hamas, the IDF force entered the Gaza Strip to kill Nour el-Deen Baraka, the Khan Yunis military brigade commander, and then the Israel air force aircraft killed the other six, when it came to the Israeli force's aid, after the fire exchange ended. Israel insisted its force was on an intelligence-gathering operation and revealed for the first time that it conducts such operations regularly. The Arab media said the Israeli mission was aimed to abduct a tunnel expert.

On Monday, thousands attended the funeral of Lt. Col. M.  in his community in the north. His father said he hopes that his son will be "the last to be lost for the people of Israel.” And in Gaza, thousands attended the funeral processions of the seven killed al-Qassam fighters and called for revenge.

The Hamas movement said Israel was responsible for the "crime," that "entering Gaza is not a picnic," and that the movement holds the right to respond. Initially, Israeli defense officials thought the killing of the seven Hamas fighters would not spark a strong response from Hamas so as not to derail talks with Hamas over a long-term arrangement in Gaza, the initial stage of which had just begun three days earlier with the transfer via Israel of $15 million to pay civil service employees in Gaza. Indeed, Gaza militants initially shot 17 rockets and Israel did not respond. Maariv's military correspondent, Tal Lev-Ram, wrote that despite the quiet that held after that, the IDF expected the Palestinian military factions in the Gaza Strip to retaliate for the killing of the Hamas men. The IDF closed roads and boosted forces.

Then at 4:20PM, Gaza fighters launched an anti-tank missile directly at a bus, just after all but one soldier and the driver, got off - gravely wounding the soldier. [NOTE: Maariv's Lev-Ram called it "lucky" that the bus was empty, but since it was an aimed direct hit, it's likely that Hamas waited for them to disembark because it did not want to kill a bus full of soldiers - an act that would have greatly escalated the situation. OH]  The papers wrote that Hamas' salvo began after that and then Israel began responding and then the tit-for-tat continued. Gaza militants fired some 200 rockets at Israel by Monday midnight. Throughout Monday evening and overnight Tuesday, IDF jets downed four high-rise apartment buildings and attacked the Hamas Al-Aqsa TV station and jets and tanks attacked some 150 other targets. The IDF said it notified the inhabitants in advance and that the buildings were used for Hamas activity. The Palestinians say that three Palestinians were killed (also Maariv) In response, the military wing of Hamas and Islamic Jihad threatened to step up attacks and fire rockets at Ashdod and Beersheva if Israel continues to carry out airstrikes in Gaza. And after the newspapers went to press, a rocket hit a building in Ashkelon killing a Palestinian man from the West Bank, 40, who was living illegally in Israel with his (Israeli) wife, 40, the latter who was seriously injured. Another woman, aged 60, was critically wounded. (Maariv) The police and firefighters had left the scene before finding them and that they were found by a neighbor.

Countries responded differently to the escalation: Germany's and the EU's ambassadors to Israel criticized the “indiscriminate firing of rockets” against civilians and called on both sides to show restraint. The Russian embassy in Israel called on both sides to show restraint. US President Donald Trump's special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt said Israeli military action is necessary as defense and that the US Israel stands with Israel. Egypt told Israel on Monday it needed to stop the escalation of violence and Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, “We hold Israel, the occupying power, fully responsible for the deterioration of the situation in Gaza."
Quick Hits:
  • In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces carry out assaults, detentions, raids; settlers raid Al-Aqsa - Sources reported that Israeli intelligence summoned former prisoner, Mahmoud Taha, of E. Jerusalem, for interrogation to the Israeli police station in West Jerusalem and repeatedly beat him upon his arrival. Additionally, about 33 Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque through the Moroccan Gate, in the Old City of East Jerusalem. (Maan)
  • Israel demolishes Palestinian structure near Nablus - Israeli forces escorted bulldozers that raided the Qusra village and demolished a structure belonging to Moussa Ahmad Hussein Hassan. which included a kitchen and a toilet. (Maan)
  • Israel postpones decision on controversial church lands bill - Under pressure from church leaders, the Israeli government suspends debate on a contentious bill that would allow the state to seize church lands that have been sold to private developers • MK Rachel Azaria: Church leaders misinterpreted bill. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli farmers take fight against BDS to consumers - Farmers plan to combat anti-Israel boycott efforts by more aggressively appealing to shoppers in Europe and the U.S. • Plan includes increasing products' visibility, hosting public opinion leaders in tours of Judea and Samaria, Golan and Jordan Valley. (Israel Hayom)
  • Senior Police Officials Foiled Appointment of Potential New Chief, Israeli Top Cop Says - Former head of police intelligence says he attended meeting where officers said they would fight the pick of Yoram Halevy. (Haaretz+)
  • A lifesaving Israeli combat robot - Defense Ministry, IAI, have developed a highly maneuverable combat robot that will be able to carry out missions alongside ground troops, neutralize and warn forces regarding hidden threats on the battlefield. (Ynet)
  • PM's son sues ex-driver over embarrassing secret recording  - In January, a recording of Yair Netanyahu and friends during an evening of strip club hopping was broadcast on the Hadashot television news • Lawsuit claims driver, accused of illegally making the recording for personal gain, violated Netanyahu's privacy. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israelis pursuing Polish passports - Despite controversial Polish Holocaust law, relations are tightening between Jewish State and Poland; data shows that since 2002, 28,736 Israelis were granted a Polish passport, with 10,820 Israelis receiving it between the years 2015-2017. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • France supports Palestinian budget with 8 million Euros - The financial support is the second installment of 16 million Euros that France has pledged to support the Palestinian budget this year. (Maan)
  • WATCH Trudeau's anti-BDS message during apology for turning away Jews during WWII continues to make waves - Justin Trudeau apologized last week for the Canadian government's failure in 1939 to admit a ship carrying 907 German Jews fleeing Nazi persecution - and took a swipe at BDS. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • US-backed Syrian fighters resume offensive against ISIS - Syrian Democratic Forces temporarily suspended its campaign against the jihadi terrorist group in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor in late October, accusing Turkey of jeopardizing its efforts • Operation resumes after Turkish threats diminished. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • British envoy back in Riyadh, as Theresa May rebuffs calls to stop arms deals with Saudi Arabia - A senior British diplomat is in Saudi Arabia and has met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the first time since the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Qatari Outreach to pro-Israel U.S. Groups Included Attempts to Stop anti-Hamas Bill in D.C. - Documents show that briefings to members of Congress highlighted Qatar’s supposed support among the right-wing American-Jewish community. (Haaretz+)

The first Bedouin woman in a rescue unit
They go through exhausting training and risk their lives in order to save stranded hikers—only the toughest make it. Rana’a Gaboa made history when she became the first Bedouin woman to volunteer in the police rescue unit. (Yedioth/Ynet)
'Suddenly I Saw Eyes': Jesus’ Face Discovered in Ancient Israeli Desert Church
Very little early Christian art has survived the centuries in the Holy Land – but then an Israeli art historian looked at the apse of a ruined Byzantine church in Shivta, and saw Jesus’ face and short curly hair. (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz+)

Botched Special Op in Gaza Brings Israel and Hamas to Brink of War (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The problematic operation conducted by Israeli special forces deep in the Gaza Strip Sunday night has brought Israel and Hamas once again to the brink of war. The immediate question posed by the special forces operation Sunday is, why now?
*Israeli power is real, but it hasn’t seemed so fragile for a long time (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Israel and Hamas find themselves in a mutual "trap of deterrence," but since everyone is deterred by everyone, no one is deterred from anything. And also: This is how the courage of Lieutenant Colonel M. saved the lives of his comrades in one second.
Lieutenant Colonel M. had to decide. His senses indicated to him that the small secret force he was leading had been discovered. The Hamas force, which asked him to identify himself, did not "buy" the cover story. He was three kilometers inside the Gaza Strip. He knew that the entire IDF was behind him, from the chief of staff continuing down, but in that fateful moment he was terribly alone. Lt. Col. M. with a handful of his fighters, his brother-in-arms, faced a Hamas force headed by the battalion commander of the area, and Lt. Col. M. had to decide. He did not have time to assess the situation, to contact the war room, to consult with his fighters. He and his fighters faced the Hamasniks, close and threatening, looking at the white of each other's eyes and asking themselves who will open fire first.
Lieutenant Colonel M. opened fire first. According to our side, this decision saved the lives of his men. In such confrontations, in such short range, the person who opens fire first has a decisive advantage. The battle, defined by the IDF as "heroic," ended. Six Hamas fatalities, including the Hamas battalion commander, and one killed on the IDF side. Lieutenant Colonel M. won the battle, saved his soldiers, but in the battle lost his life. In his death, Lt. Col. M. gave his soldiers their lives. Throughout his lifetime, Lt. Col. M. gave us our security.
The operational glitch on Monday night is a calculated risk. I do not think it is appropriate to criticize at this stage the implementation of the operation at a critical stage of entering into the "arrangement" [long-term agreement with Hamas - OH]. This is nonsense. Such actions can not be carried out in a war. They can be carried out routinely, when an operational opportunity is created. Without such actions, the level of security that Israel can give to its residents will be severely damaged. It is almost impossible to find a "convenient time" for such an operation. The only choice is to identify the need, plan the action and wait for the opportunity to perform. Yes, it's dangerous. Fortunately, the times when such actions are exposed and produce a chain of reactions that drag us to the brink of war are very few. We live in a dangerous neighborhood and the insurance fee is high. This is the situation.
Israel and Hamas found themselves in a mutual "trap of deterrence." Each side tries to convince itself that it is deterring the other side, and vice versa. Hamas is starving, with its back to the wall, receiving $15 million protection money in cash via Israel, happy with itself and then wakes up the next morning to find a Zionist gang in its backyard. "These Jews are crazy,” (Hamas politburo chief Yahya) Sinwar and his men say to themselves. ”They discount us. There is no choice, they have to be deterred. " They bury their dead and shoot an anti-tank missile on a bus of soldiers and 200 rockets into (Israeli) towns.
Israel is the same, just the opposite. 
"We only gave them money, and they are already shooting at us," they say, raising the stakes. (At the time of writing this column, the IDF took down the Hamas media broadcasting building and began to hit residential buildings.) Because everyone in this story deters everyone, no one is deterred from anything.
A few days ago, in the closed part of the Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu expanded his words and spoke against "talk of occupation." Instead, Netanyahu said, "we need to talk about power." According to him, in today's world "nations respect morality to a known limit, but respect power much more." And here, Netanyahu began to describe our strength.
It is a pity that this issue about power did not also reach Gaza, did not infiltrate the consciousness of Yahya Sinwar and Ismail Haniya, and did not impress the Islamic Jihad or the Resistance Committees. Netanyahu is learning at our expense about the weakness of power.
Israel is a superpower on a regional, economic and military, nuclear (according to foreign publications) and conventional, hi-tech and cyber and what not. Hamas has nothing to eat. Nevertheless, over the weekend we witnessed a shameful event in which Israel transfers cash to Hamas to buy some quiet. It turned out to be expensive. $15 million for two days of quiet, more than $300,000 an hour. Even more than the price charged by Ehud Barak for his research.
It turns out that no one in our neighborhood is really impressed by Netanyahu's words about power. Even Iranian Qassem Soleimani continues to establish himself in Syria as usual. Putin is doing a favor for giving Netanyahu two minutes of his time while standing, and Israeli power has not seemed so fragile for a long time, even though it is real.
Even Iranian Qassem Suleimani continues to establish himself in Syria as usual. Putin is doing a favor for Netanyahu for two minutes standing up, and Israeli power has not seemed so fragile for a long time, even though it is real.
What Netanyahu does not understand is that power is not measured only by planes, tanks, or economic output. Power is also measured by your willingness to pay a price, your ability to go all the way, and what you have or do not have to lose.
Another thing Netanyahu recently said (according to Sefi Ovadia on Channel 10) was that he was actually ready to be immediately replaced as prime minister, but "I have no one to transfer the keys to." This is the cry of the thief claiming he was cheated. The person directly responsible for Netanyahu not having the keys to transfer them is Netanyahu. Anyone who refuses to appoint a permanent, statutory, experienced prime minister who can manage a crisis like the one currently in office when the prime minister is abroad is Netanyahu.
Whoever destroys any potential for leadership at the stage of nesting and incubation is Netanyahu. Those who blocked the defense establishment from continuing the flow of potential leaders (see the "cooling-off law") are Netanyahu. Anyone who flies to Paris knowing that there is an extremely sensitive operational operation and appoints Miri Regev to replace him is Netanyahu. And afterwards, he still complains.
Even Hamas needs to preserve its deterrence, the violence is Just Another Flare-up on the Road to a Long-term Deal (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Hamas, like Israel, also has political considerations that require it to preserve its status in the balance of deterrence. But it’s clear to both sides that in the end, the conflict will be signed at the discussions table, in a long-term agreement that is being delayed because of an Israeli patriotism test.
A war without a winner (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) Bloody conflicts cannot be resolved merely by entering negotiations and signing a piece of paper destined to lay abandoned in an archive; a silent witness to the folly of our leaders.
War Must Never Be Inevitable, Even Between Israel and Hamas (Jill Jacobs, Haaretz+) One religious voice from Israel’s early years offers a crucially different model to the serial slide into war: he recognized that it’s easier to go to war than to achieve true peace. Which is why we have to fight for it…
(The ball is now in Hamas’ court and Israel hopes the efforts for a long-term arrangement will continue)  (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv posted on the internet Monday afternoon, before the big rocket barrage ) Combat soldiers who embark on this kind of action understand very well that because of its nature the rescue is much more complex. This can explain a little about what happened to the force revealed in the minutes of fighting until the rescue ended successfully. After the incident in which Colonel Lt. Colonel M fell in the special operation in the Gaza Strip, beyond the details of the incident and the lessons that will yet emerge from it, the main question is whether the incident will lead to a security escalation and another round of fighting in the Strip. At this stage, there is no information about Hamas' intentions to launch an escalation, but in Israel no risks are taken, and therefore additional possibilities are being prepared, and the ground forces and the air defense system in the south will be strengthened. Hamas, on the other hand, responded by firing 20 mortar shells at areas close to the fence in the southern Gaza Strip. Although no one has been fired since 1:30 am, it is too early to say that another response will not come, and it can be assumed that Hamas is also in a dilemma and understands very well that another incident could lead to a significant escalation. The next few days are expected to be very tense: Despite the serious incident, as long as it depends on Israel, there is no change in policy and in the desire for efforts to reach an (long-term) arrangement. As far as the IDF is concerned, there is no connection between these types of operations and the attempts to reach a limited arrangement with Hamas. Already (Sunday) night, in the face of a wave of rumors and Hamas claims that the operation was aimed at killing or kidnapping, the IDF conveyed a message through interviews of former senior officers that that was not the goal of the operation. IDF Spokesman Ronen Manlis has already said this in a direct way, and this message can be assumed to be aimed at Hamas, Egypt, and the other elements that mediate between Israel and Hamas, and the IDF has also refrained from responding to the mortar shell fire. As far as Israel is concerned, even if things are not said explicitly, the ball is now with Hamas, which also has a lot to lose…
Netanyahu's Gaza Test: Will He Avoid a War He Already Called Unnecessary? (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) The more one unpacks the prime minister's nice-sounding words about the cost of war, the clearer the strategy – or, more accurately, the lack thereof.
Let the IDF win (Yoaz Hendel, Yedioth/Ynet) Although the death of an IDF soldier in Gaza Sunday might have changed the trajectory of events, lately it seems as though the roles of the country's political Right and Left have switched with Netanyahu wanting to avoid an operation in Gaza at all costs, but the second intifada proves that terror can indeed be defeated through military intervention.
Israel Must Prevent an Unnecessary War in Gaza (Haaretz Editorial) As always, the latest flare-up had its own localized reason. This time, an army operation in Gaza went wrong, resulting in one Israeli officer and seven Palestinians being killed.
The public will perceive the routine Israeli military modus operandi as the Prime Minister’s failure (Tal Lev Ram, Maariv) It seems that Netanyahu also understands that at the end of the current round of escalation, he will be required to present real achievements, political or military, that will ensure a different security reality for the residents of the south.
God Is All the Palestinians Have Left (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) The risible Qatari sum given as charity money to Gaza shows the scum of the Arab world has joined with Israel against the Palestinians, and only God remains at their side.
The Loyalty in Culture law expresses the desire of the right to suppress criticism of the government (Dr. Revital Amiran, Maariv) The right's attempts to claim the innocence of the law, which passed last week in its first reading, are a basic lack of understanding of the significance of political processes at best or cheap deception at worst.
The dam has burst (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) While ties are still fragile, we have crossed the Rubicon on the path to establishing stable and even close and unconditional ties between Israel and the Arab world.
Austria's Chancellor victimizes Muslims but promises to protect Jews. Don't believe him (Farid Hafez, Haaretz+) With his hijab ban, Sebastian Kurz is adopting the far right's anti-Muslim agenda, just with a liberal façade. Will he get the cover he seeks from the Jewish community? Will Israel whitewash the foundational anti-Semitism of his coalition partners?
Pro-Israeli Swedish MPs optimistic about relations
Following years of diplomatic hostility toward Israel by the ruling Swedish Social Democrats, there is an opportunity for a policy change as the center-right bloc is set to take charge and form the next government coalition. Two members of parliament, one of whom is of Iraqi descent, say criticism of Israel is nothing more than a ploy to win votes of the Muslim community. (Itamar Eichner, Yedioth/Ynet)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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