Newsletter : 18fx0809.txt
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Israel Pounds Hamas after 17 Injured in 70-Rocket Barrage
By the Jerusalem Post, YnetNews, DEBKAfile and IsraelNationalNews.com
The Israel Air Force retaliated by striking targets in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening
after 17 people were treated for injuries resulting from rocket attacks from Gaza against
southern Israel. Following the barrages, the IAF struck 12 terror targets including a
plant used to manufacture components intended for the construction of tunnels as well as a
tunnel for maritime terrorism along Israel's coast.
A number of terror targets in several military sites, including weapons and rockets, as
well as a military compound that serves as a central logistic warehouse were also hit by
IAF jets. Red Alert sirens continued to sound in the South into late in the evening.
According to Barzilai Medical Center, six people were treated for body injuries and nine
people were treated for shock. Four of the projectiles fell in Sderot. A 34-year-old was
in light-to-moderate condition with wounds from glass shards and a 20-year-old was in
light condition with injuries to his limbs from Iron Dome shrapnel. Civilians were treated
at the scene after suffering from stress, including two pregnant women who started having
contractions. Two homes in Sderot were also reportedly hit by the shrapnel and several
cars were damaged.
Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon reported that MDA medics brought in eight people with light
injuries and one man, 54, who sustained moderate injuries and is being operated on. MDA
reported that 17 people were injured, many of them were treated for shock as well as three
pregnant women who began having labor contractions due to the stress.
The rocket fire from Gaza came shortly after an IDF tank struck Hamas posts in Gaza after
shots were fired across the border towards civilian engineering vehicles working on the
IDF's underground barrier with the coastal enclave.
Hamas issued a statement saying: "We are delivering on our promise. The resistance
accepted the responsibility to even the playing field with the enemy, and it is succeeding
in doing so."
According to the IDF, 70 projectiles were launched from the Hamas-run enclave as of late
Wednesday night; the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted 11.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman held a security assessment with senior military and
defense officials at the IDF Kirya Headquarters in Tel Aviv following the initial rocket
At least one Gazan citizen was reported injured. "Terrorists shot at civilian vehicles
that were being used in an effort to construct the barrier around the security fence in
the northern Gaza Strip. One vehicle was hit," the IDF said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the IDF closed several roads near the Gaza border after warning that
it was concerned about a retaliatory attack by Hamas after two of its elite members were
killed in an IDF strike on Tuesday. According to the IDF, Route 25 and several other
smaller roads were closed after Hamas was identified as having cleared several military
positions along the border and threats made by the group.
The targets include a tunnel-part and concrete factory, an offensive maritime terror
tunnel shaft along the coast and several terror sites in military compounds throughout the
Gaza Strip, among them rocket manufacturing facilities and a central logistical military
complex. The tunnel-part factory is a site which was intended to be used as a hotel and
was overtaken by the Hamas terror organization in 2012. The factory manufactures parts for
offensive terror tunnels under civilian disguise.
The rocket fire also comes as a senior Hamas official said that UN and Egyptian-mediated
cease-fire talks between the terror group and Israel have reached "advanced stages," with
a deal expected to be signed soon. "We can say that actions led by the United Nations and
Egypt are in advanced stages and we hope it could yield some good from them," Khalil
Al-Hayya, deputy Hamas chief in Gaza, told Al Jazeera television. "What is required is for
calm to be restored along the border between us and the Zionist enemy (Israel)."
A delegation of high-ranking Hamas political leaders, led by the terror group's deputy
chairman Saleh al-Arouri, left Gaza on Wednesday after spending the last few days in the
strip for talks about a proposed ceasefire agreement with Israel under the auspices of the
UN and Egyptian intelligence.
On Sunday, Israel's Security Cabinet met to discuss the proposed cease-fire agreement. The
Prime Minister's Office released a statement afterward saying that the IDF was ready for
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, however, told Ynet on Wednesday he did not think a
broad, long-term ceasefire agreement with Hamas in Gaza is in the cards, but allowed that
"there may be secret channels that even the ministers aren't aware of yet, and when a
proposal arrives, we'll discuss it."
DEBKAfile's military sources report that the IDF General Command meeting urgently
Wednesday night has little option but to launch a full-scale military operation against
Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This would necessitate a ground incursion. It was decided to keep
the operation as short as possible, the main goal is to push Hamas back from the Israel
border and deliver a blow painful enough for the terrorists to beg for a ceasefire.
IDF chiefs hope that this will cure Hamas leaders of the belief that they can dictate the
rules of the game, as it has done so far. The generals are taking into account that the
rocket barrage will spread across other parts of Israel in the course of the operation.
The General Command conference continued into Wednesday night.
Despite the cease-fire talks, dozens of fires have ignited following the continued
launching of aerial incendiary devices into southern Israel. In response, IDF aircraft
have continued to strike the cells launching the devices. Hundreds of such devices have
been launched towards Israel since late March when Gazans began weekly protests along the
border with Israel.
The protests have been called the greatest threat to Israeli security in the region since
Operation Protective Edge in 2014, due to the combination of terror tunnels, riots,
attempted infiltration and the use of incendiary items.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 158 Gazans have been killed since the
start of the weekly "March of Return."
Birthright Co-Founder Charles Bronfman: If Young Jews want to Criticize Israel, They
Should Pay Their Own Way
Birthright Israel co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Charles Bronfman said that
young Jews are free to criticize Israel but not while enjoying a free trip. "If
people want to call Israel names and say bad things about the country, they certainly have
the right to free speech. But they don't have the right to do it on our nickel," he told
the Israeli daily Haaretz in an interview published Wednesday.
His comments come after at least two groups of American Jews visiting Israel on the 10-day
trip walked off the tour to join left-wing groups on visits to Palestinians. The walk-offs
reportedly were encouraged by IfNotNow, a left-wing American-Jewish group.
The young Jews who walked off the trip and some others who remain on them are critical of
what they say is Birthright's failure to deal with Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
Some have complained that maps handed out to participants do not draw a proper distinction
between Israel and the West Bank.
Bronfman said in his interview with Haaretz that participants on Birthright could extend
their trip and join any group they want or travel on their own to Palestinian areas. "If
they want to go to the West Bank or Gaza, they are certainly free to go," he told Haaretz.
"What is not fair is making a big tzimmes while the trip is on. Frankly, I just don't
think that is fair to their fellow participants."
Bronfman expressed concern over improperly marked maps, however, saying he hoped it was a
one-time mistake. He noted that the Birthright experience includes four hours devoted to
discussing the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, both in Israel and the West
Bank and Gaza, as impartially as possible. "I don't see the issue not being addressed," he
Bronfman called the walk-offs a sign of Birthright's success. "If we weren't successful,"
he said, "we wouldn't have the problem."
Israeli Prison to Join Armageddon's List of Ancient Ruins
By Reuters and Israel Hayom
The end is nigh at Armageddon at least for an old Israeli prison near the
ancient ruins of Megiddo, by tradition the site of the apocalyptic biblical battle between
good and evil. Half an hour's drive south of Nazareth, Armageddon is a popular site for
the busloads of tourists visiting the sites of the Holy Land. There is also a busy program
In 2005, work to expand the aging Megiddo Prison uncovered the remains of a third-century
Christian prayer hall, including a mosaic referring to "God Jesus Christ." The building
with the mosaic was excavated, earlier artifacts found, and the site was covered up under
the supervision of archaeologists. Now, after years of legal and bureaucratic delays, the
prison is to be relocated, freeing up the site for further exploration potentially as
early as 2021.
The prospect already has archaeologists excitedly talking about an area they have started
to call "Greater Megiddo." "When the Christian prayer hall was first found beneath the
prison, we were all excited for one minute," said Matthew Adams, director of the W.F.
Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, who has spent years excavating
at Megiddo. "And then we realized, "Oh, it's in a maximum security prison, so we'll never
actually be able to do anything with it. Now that the government has decided to move this
prison, we can explore this really amazing and interesting part of the development of
early Christianity in a way that we didn't think we'd be able to."
The prison, whose inmates once included Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, lies a few
hundred yards south of Tel Megiddo itself, the ancient mound at which archaeologists have
found walls dating back at least 7,000 years. Between the prison and the hill is the
largely unexcavated Roman Sixth Legion garrison, thought to have been built by Emperor
The name Armageddon is believed to be a corruption of the Hebrew words Har Megiddo
Mount Megiddo. Although small, the hill was the site of numerous ancient battles because
it overlooks the Jezreel Valley, across which armies have marched since antiquity towards
a pass leading to the Mediterranean.
The earliest written reference to Megiddo seems to have been during the reign of the
Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III, who defeated Syrian and Canaanite states there in 1468 BCE.
It later fell to the Israelites, and then to the Assyrians in 733 BCE.
In 1918, the British military commander Gen. Edmund Allenby routed Turkish forces there,
and he later took the title Viscount Allenby of Megiddo and of Felixstowe. But its fame
derives principally from the apocalyptic final book of the New Testament, Revelation,
which tells of "the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
And he gathered them
together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon."
The current dig at the mound is led by Adams and Professor Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv
University. "Megiddo was important because it sits on the international road which
connects Egypt with Mesopotamia, with Damascus, with Anatolia. So whoever sits here
controls the most important road of antiquity in the ancient world," Finkelstein said.
Their team has used modern radiocarbon dating and laser-assisted distance measurements to
precisely date and record the many layers of history on the tel, including monuments, once
thought to have been built in the era of King Solomon. These, Finkelstein says, can now be
attributed to the later era of Ahab, king of the northern kingdom of Israel in the ninth
The top priority was to date things accurately. "One way is to date according to biblical
verses, and one way is to date according to radiocarbon studies. Biblical verses, with all
due respect, are always problematic because there are questions regarding their author,
their goals, and the ideology behind the author and so on and so forth." But, he said,
"When you work with radiocarbon you are on solid grounds in your dating."
Israeli tourist authorities are planning a complex on the site to combine tourism,
archaeology, and nature hikes. Targeting Christian evangelicals in particular, they hope
to draw 300,000 visitors annually, nearly double the current figure.
"A prison of 1,000 dangerous prisoners will be moved and a new complex will be built in
order to expose the mosaic and enable people from all over the world to come," Israel
Prison Service spokeswoman Nicole Englander said.
Standing on Tel Megiddo as he supervised excavations into a Middle Bronze Age site, Adams
said the area appears to have been a cultural melting pot two millennia ago, with Jews,
Christians and pagan Romans all in the same spot. That suggested interaction between early
Christians and the Roman Empire were much more complicated than previously thought.
"Typically, we think of the Romans persecuting Christians," he said.
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