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Israel

Israel issues urgent terror warning for Sinai, urges Israelis to leave immediately

Leading into the Passover and summer travel seasons, Israel has raised travel warnings to the highest level, cautioning Israelis against traveling to Egypt’s Sinai region, Prime Minister’s Office Counter-Terrorism Bureau Chief Eitan Ben David said at a special media briefing on Monday.

Ben David said that “the threat has grown, including to Israelis in the coming period and is the gravest level of threat.”

“Attacks on the Egyptian military, on Coptic Christians…ISIS rockets fired at Eilat and videos from ISIS against Israelis show the high motivation and power of terror groups there [to attack Israelis],” said Ben David. “We don’t expect them [ISIS] to respect red-lines.”

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While Sinai has the highest level of warning at level one of four, other countries also have high warning levels – with Turkey at level two (without special heightened warning for merely stopping over in Turkey’s airport) and Jordan along with Egypt at level three.

Level one signals “a very high concrete threat” with advice to avoid any travel to a destination and leave immediately. Level two means “a high concrete threat” with advice to avoid travel to a destination and leave as early as possible. Level three means “a basic-level concrete threat” with advice to avoid travel to a destination and level four is “a continuing potential threat” with advice to delay travel which is not essential.

Ben David said that most of the increased threat was presented by ISIS-affiliated groups, including, “that ISIS is losing ground in Iraq and Syria which is causing many runaways to places where it is easier to act.”

He said there is a big rise recently of ISIS-related terror attacks in Asia, particularly in  Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh as well as in North Africa in “places where there is less security control.”

The presentation emphasized that the threat was not unique to Israelis and that ISIS is in an increased terror mode also for targeting Christians and others.

Museums, market places, sporting events, airports, train stations, synagogues and mosques, big events and certain central hotels, especially in Africa, could all be primary targets for terrorists to inflict maximum mass casualties.

Ben David emphasized that they did not disregard threats from Iran, Hezbollah or others, but that in general the increased threat stemmed mainly from ISIS-related groups.

Dual US-Israeli Jewish citizen from Ashkelon behind most JCC bomb threat calls

An 18-year-old dual US-Israeli citizen from Ashkelon has been arrested on suspicion of standing behind most of a series of bomb and other threats to Jewish communities ranging from the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand over the past six months.

As of Thursday, with a gag order on the probe lifted by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, which extended his detention, sources indicate that most of the cases of threats against Jewish communities and organizations, though not all, led investigators back to Israel.

The first threat, which stood out and was picked up on by Israeli investigators, occurred in New Zealand around six month ago and led to the opening of the investigation.

Israel has been the lead coordinator with a number of other involved countries throughout the course of the probe.

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The suspect used complex methods to shield himself from identification, and law enforcement had to use a variety of their own complex methods to find him.

Law enforcement finally searched the suspect’s house on Thursday and are only now fully being able to piece together the breadth and methodology of his operations.

There are still few details available about the suspect’s profile, but he is not in the IDF, not ultra-Orthodox, and at some point made aliya and possibly has psychological and social problems.

The suspect’s father has also been detained and is being questioned as to whether he knew about the suspect’s activities, including the suspect’s use of a large antenna and other unusual hardware which could have drawn suspicion.

It is unknown how many others might have worked with the suspect, but it is believed that he was the main operator of the scare-spree and might have even acted completely on his own.

As of Thursday, it was still unclear what the suspect’s motivations were for the scare-spree which made international headlines. In light of the threats, US President Donald Trump faced accusations that he was light on fighting antisemitism when he did not initially condemn the scares along with some vandalism of Jewish graves, which presumably were not connected to the suspect.

Israel intends to indict the suspect in its own courts, but it is unknown as of Thursday whether other countries like the US might also seek to extradite and try him for his alleged crimes.

Bombing attack thwarted on Gaza border; one terrorist eliminated

An 18-year-old Gazan terrorist was eliminated and another was wounded overnight Tuesday from IDF fire near the Gaza border fence, according to Arab reports.

The IDF said that three Gazans were spotted making their way towards the security border fence in southern Gaza and arouse the suspicion of IDF lookouts.

The three appeared to be doing something on the ground and were in a no-go area, the IDF said.

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In response, an IDF tank fired shells in their direction, and one of them was hit.

The IDF is investigating whether the three were trying to plant an explosive device.

The incident overnight is the latest of a series of incidents on the Gaza border fence since February.

Earlier this month, the IDF neutralized explosives planted near the fence. In another incident, an IDF engineering force operating near the fence came under fire. In a third incident, a Hamas drone trying to infiltrate Israel was shot down by the Israel Air Force.

In addition, five rockets fired from the Gaza Strip fell inside Israel during the same time period.

Shin Bet chief: 400 arrests prevented hundreds of terror attacks

Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Director Nadav Argaman, speaking before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee warned on Monday morning that despite the current relative calm, Hamas and other terrorists entities may attempt to carry out attacks ahead of the upcoming Passover holiday.

“The relative calm that we are experiencing at this time is quite deceiving, it’s misleading and deluding because Hamas and global jihadi infrastructure are working every day in attempt to conduct terror attacks in Israeli territory,” he stated at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

“We’re approaching the Passover holiday. There is no question that the terror networks, particularly Hamas, will try to escalate the situation and carry out terror attacks. Our goal is to keep the holidays quiet.”

“We are engaged day and night in thwarting attacks,” he said. “We have stopped more than 400 potential hazards before they materialized into terrorist attacks.”

Noting that 16 civilians and one foreign national were killed last year as the result of terror attacks, the Shin Bet chief also spoke of the technological and operational developments the Israeli security apparatus has made in light of the continued threat of terrorism.

“We are currently experiencing significant changes in the geo-strategic arena that will be relevant for many years to come as a power struggle, the ramification of which are the result of the impact by the nuclear deal with Iran on terrorism in the Middle East,” he asserted.

Israel will destroy Syrian air defense systems if targeted again by Assad regime

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman threatened to destroy Syrian air defense systems after they fired ground-to-air missiles at Israeli warplanes carrying out strikes targeting a Hezbollah weapons convoy.

“The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation,” Liberman said on Israel Radio.

The IDF on Friday confirmed its first operational use of the advanced Arrow missile defense system, which it said was used to shoot down a Syrian anti-aircraft missile that was fired at an Israeli jet.

Israeli warplanes had attacked several targets in Syria, the IDF said, prompting the Syrian attack.

It was the most serious incident between the two countries since the Syrian civil war began six years ago.

“We have no interest in interfering in the Syrian civil war, not for nor against Assad, and we have no interest in clashing with the Russians,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman clarified Sunday.

“Our main problem is with the transfer of advanced weapons from Syria to Lebanon. That is why every time we identify an attempt to smuggle game-changing weapons, we will act to thwart it. There will be no compromise on this issue,” the defense minister stressed. “If the IDF does choose to act, there is a real reason for it.”

 

Syrian army: Israel struck military position near Palmyra

Syria’s army high command said in a statement on Friday that Israeli jets breached Syrian air space early in the morning and attacked a military target near Palmyra in what it described as an act of aggression that aided Islamic State.

In a rare confirmation of Israel carrying out airstrikes in Syria, the IDF said on Friday morning that “several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria during the operation. One of the missiles was intercepted by the air defense systems of the IDF.” It marked the first time that Israel used its Arrow-3 missile defense system.

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According to Arab media, the target of the IAF strikes was a Hezbollah weapons convoy.

As a result of these activities, a rocket alert siren was heard in the Aravot HaYarden Regional Council in Israel’s Jordan Valley, the army statement added.

Syria fired 3 anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli jets; one knocked down by the “Arrow” defense system, reportedly over Jordan; other two strike Israel, causing no damage.

At no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or the IAF aircraft compromised, the IDF spokesperson added.

The Arrow is primarily designed to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere, intercepting the weapons and their nuclear, biological or chemical warheads close to their launch sites.

IAF strikes Hezbollah weapons convoy in Syria; ‘Arrow’ battery intercepts Syrian missile

A rocket alert siren was heard in Aravot HaYarden Regional Council in Israel’s Jordan Valley at around 3:00 a.m. Friday morning, the IDF confirmed.

Following the siren, residents of Jerusalem, Modiin and Samaria reported hearing an explosion.

There were no reports of injuries or damages.

It was unclear whether a rocket or rockets had landed or were intercepted and where they were fired from, an Israeli military spokeswoman said.

The IDF later confirmed that the sirens were related to Israeli airstrikes on several targets in Syria.

According to Arab media, the target of the IAF strikes was a Hezbollah weapons convoy.

Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and IDF “Arrow” Aerial Defense Systems intercepted one of the missiles, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

At no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or the IAF aircraft compromised.

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The Arrow is primarily designed to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere, intercepting the weapons and their nuclear, biological or chemical warheads close to their launch sites.

Therefore its use against a surface-to-air missile was somewhat odd and may indicate a misidentification of the type of weapon being fired from Syria.

 

IDF strikes Hamas targets in Gaza in response to rocket fire

IAF jets struck two Hamas terrorist infrastructures in northern Gaza overnight, in retaliation for a rocket that exploded in the Negev on Wednesday night, the army confirmed on Thursday.

A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip landed in an open area in the Negev on Wednesday night. No damage or injuries were reported, the IDF spokesperson’s unit said.

The Red Alert incoming rocket siren did not sound because the rocket was headed toward an open area.

“The IDF considers the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for what is happening in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.

Five rockets have been launched at Israel within the last month, including two rocket attacks by ISIS terrorists in Sinai.

Arab terrorist who murdered rabbi receives 2 life sentences

Mohammed al-Amairah, an Arab terrorist who was involved in the terror attack that claimed the life of Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark, was sentenced on Wednesday to two life terms in prison and ordered to pay NIS 250,000 in compensation to the victim’s family.

Mark, 48, was murdered in a shooting attack in the southern Mount Hevron area in July 2016. His wife and two of his children were wounded in the attack.

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The family’s car came under fire while traveling on Route 60 near Beit Hagai, south of Hevron. Mark’s wife, Hava, was seriously wounded, their 15-year-old son Pedaya was lightly wounded, while 13-year-old daughter Tehila was moderate-to-seriously wounded.

Al-Amairah, who was arrested two weeks after the murder, was convicted of premeditated murder and several counts of attempted murder both for the attack on the Mark family and for three other attempted attacks.

His accomplice, Mohammed Fakih, was eliminated on July 26 after a firefight with IDF troops that arrived at his home to arrest him.

Several of Fakih’s relatives were also arrested, including his brother, Sahib, who confessed in his interrogation to aiding his brother hide, as well as helping him hide the weapons he had.

The terrorist’s cousin, Muaz Fakih, also confessed to helping find a place for his cousin to stay in the days that followed the terror attack.

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