Palestinians gathered twice this week, once over the weekend at the usual, ongoing border protest against Israel, and again inside Gaza City to rally against Palestinian Leadership.
Gaza Protests against Israel and Palestinian Leadership
The protest at the Gaza border fence resumed this weekend as large groups of Palestinians gathered near the fence and drew a response from Israeli forces guarding the fence.
The Israeli Air Force has also taken an aggressive approach after security forces failed to sufficiently prevent fire kites and balloons launched by protestors from falling into Israeli fields and causing extensive damage. This weekend, for example, an Israeli airstrike targeted a wagon full of materials for building the devices.
Ha’aretz reports a mix of non-lethal and lethal methods left more than eighty wounded and one dead from Israeli gunfire, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.
The Hamas-led border protest, which results in violent clashes every weekend, has been active since the end of March and partly stems from the extremely difficult living conditions in the Gaza Strip under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade and military action against terrorist groups. This week, however, those same sentiments sparked another large protest, this time inside Gaza City and against the internal fighting between Hamas and Palestinian Authority.
Palestinians Protest Hamas and PA
More than a thousand Palestinians gathered in Gaza City’s square to protest the political infighting between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority on Monday.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the peaceful rally was organized by the Prisoners Movement, family and representatives for Palestinian prisoners, and called for an end to the warring between Palestinian political factions that has resulted in the worsening of the already dismal humanitarian conditions inside Gaza. Specifically, they called for an end to the sanctions placed on Gaza by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. The infighting between these factions has resulted in slashed salaries for government employees, mismanagement of utilities and power games that do not benefit the Palestinian people.
Protest participants told the Jerusalem Post that undercover Hamas operatives inside the crowd and armed Hamas enforcers showed up and broke up the demonstrations beating people back and preventing them from filming anything. This protest comes a week or two after a similar protest was held in the West Bank against the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority for similar reasons, and may be a sign of Palestinian dissatisfaction with their leadership.
Gaza Airstrikes and Rocket Barrages Escalate
Over forty-five rockets launched from Gaza last Tuesday, and a retaliatory wave of Israeli airstrikes targeting terrorist sites signified an escalation in the Israel-Gaza conflict.
The IDF said that the Iron Dome systems intercepted seven rockets, three fell short inside Gaza, and the rest struck inside Israel. Ha’aretz reported that many fell within the Eshkol Regional Council area damaging homes and cars with shrapnel, and one landed near a kindergarten, though no injuries were reported. The IAF strikes hit twenty-five Hamas targets, and the Gaza Health Ministry reported a small number of wounded.
A spokesperson for Hamas praised the rocket barrage on Twitter saying that it was proof that they were setting the rules of the game. Since the end of May, the increase of rocket and mortar barrages from Gaza has reached a level reminiscent of the last major Gaza war in 2014.
U.S. Leaves UN Human Rights Council Over Anti-Israel Bias
The United States UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, announced last week that the U.S. is pulling out of the UN Human Rights Council over anti-Israel bias calling the council “an organization that is not worthy of its name.”
Haley justified the withdrawal with examples of UNHRC member states such as China and Venezuela that have long histories of human rights abuses and said that the council has a “chronic bias against Israel” according to a report by the Associated Press.
Israel is the only state whose rights record is on the agenda at every council session as “Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” It has been part of the council’s regular business almost as long as it has existed. Haley said that the council had “opportunity after opportunity” to address their bias.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the U.S. move, and on Friday, Israel also announced that it was scaling back involvement in the council to match the U.S. stance. Israel is not a member-state of the council but has participated like many other countries as an observer.
Israel Wards Off Incoming Drone
A drone headed toward Israel from Syrian airspace turned around after Israel launched a Patriot Missile to intercept it.
On Sunday, the IDF tweeted that “moments ago, a Patriot aerial defense system missile was launched towards an unmanned aerial vehicle approaching the Israeli border from Syria. As a result, the vehicle retreated from the border. A hit was not identified.” Another tweet confirmed that the drone was identified and targeted before entering Israeli airspace.
This is not the first drone from Syria that has tangled with Israeli air defense. Earlier this year an Iranian drone violated Israeli airspace and was shot down by a military helicopter beginning a campaign against Iranian targets in Syria. The IDF has not said if they know who was controlling the drone.
Sara Netanyahu Indicted on Fraud Charges
Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been indicted for systematic fraud, allegations that her attorneys deny.
The issue in question involves Sara’s eating habits. The indictment filed at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court alleges that expenses costing hundreds of thousands of shekels were incurred from gourmet meal charges for Sara.
Ha’aretz reports that the indictment says that between 2010 and 2013 she instructed staff at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem to order meals costing a total of 350,000 shekels ($96,000) from gourmet restaurants, which violated government rules barring the residence from ordering meals from outside while there was a cook on its staff. Additionally, the indictment alleges that she was aware that her actions violated the rules, which they say is evident since the cook's employment is listed as a cleaner.
Sara’s attorneys reject the allegations calling the indictment “baseless and delusional.” They say that Sara was not only unaware of the rule, but that she was not even the one who ordered the meals. The Netanyahu’s are no strangers to corruption accusations. Benjamin Netanyahu is under ongoing state investigations following corruption allegations that he denies.
Driver Turns Self in after Car Ramming
Israeli Authorities are investigating a suspected car ramming after several Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded when a car with Palestinian license plates hit them while on patrol in the West Bank.
The driver of the car fled the scene, but shortly afterward turned himself in to Israeli soldiers, a highly unusual move for a suspected terrorist. The 21-year-old driver says that is because he’s not a terrorist and it was just a car accident, according to the Times of Israel. So why did he flee? To avoid getting shot by the soldiers, he says, which would have been the likely outcome if he had stuck around long enough. Several recent car rammings targeting soldiers in the West Bank have ended with soldiers shooting the suspect.
The man's friends captured the his surrender on social media. He bids them farewell before walking up to a group of soldiers and being taken away by them.
Israeli Politician Yehudah Glick posted a statement on Facebook he said he received from residents of the Husan village where the incident occurred, in which they wanted to explain how the accident happened:
Initial reports were that it was a terrorist car ramming attack. This was not the case. Immediately following the accident, local Palestinian residents rendered assistance to the soldiers and called for a Palestinian ambulance. The driver gave himself up to the police and stated that it was an accident and he was afraid that if he stayed, he would have been shot by the soldiers. We have warned the army commanders of the dangers for the soldiers walking in the middle of the local streets. The streets are dark with lots of blind bends, and the drivers don’t exactly stay in their lanes, so an accident like this was waiting to happen.
On Sunday two of the soldiers were released from the hospital, and two others were being held for observation.