Friday, May 11, 2018

11-May-18: An Arab-on-Israel vehicle ramming this afternoon

Just as the Sabbath siren is being heard here in Jerusalem, we are learning of another Arab-on-Israeli vehicle ramming attack that happened late this afternoon.

A soldier aged about 20, as yet unnamed, is lightly injured, says Times of Israel quoting a Samaria Regional Council spokesperson, when he was struck near the Israeli community of Shavei Shomron just before 6 this afternoon. The young man was treated by Magen David Adom ambulance personnel at the scene and then taken to hospital for further treatment.

The IDF's investigations support the idea that this was a terror attack, and the driver who fled the scene with his vehicle is now the subject of a manhunt.

We are also hearing of a second suspected vehicle ramming attack that happened around 6:35 pm in the Har Hevron vicinity. More details after the Sabbath.

UPDATE Saturday night, May 12, 2018: This is what the Chinese newsagency Xinhua knows:
A car hit a soldier at the Ganot Interchange adjacent to Shavei Shomron, west of Nablus. The driver fled the scene, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement. "Forces are searching for it," said the IDF. A second ramming attack took place near Hebron, where a driver attempted but failed to hit a soldier at a checkpoint, and the driver was arrested, Israeli media reported.
Still hoping to have more details to share.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

08-May-18: War crimes, incendiary neighbors

Image Source
People who have suffered the usually-minor indignity of having passers-by or neighbors flick a still-lit cigarette into their homes or gardens will have an advantage in relating to the latest technological 'breakthrough' to emerge from Gaza.

As Ynet reported on Monday evening ["Incendiary balloons from Gaza cause damage to Israeli fields", May 07, 2018]
Several incendiary balloons flown from the Gaza Strip on Monday afternoon caused fires in seven different locations on the Israeli side of the border. No one was hurt, but great damage was caused... The incendiary balloons, like incendiary kites, are affixed with an already-lit Molotov cocktail [fire bomb]... The westerly winds push the balloons, which are filled with helium gas, towards Israel. After a short while in the air, the fire from the Molotov cocktail causes the balloon to explode in midair, with the incendiary contraption dropping to the ground. The IDF has been working on a solution to thwart these contraptions by intercepting them using drones before they can land in Israel and cause damage.

At this point, we know of one such incendiary device igniting wheat fields on the land of Kibbutz Mefalsim in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council. Another landed in the Eshkol region's Be'eri Forest, setting off a blaze. With spring turning to summer and harvest time, the economic losses are significant to the agricultural communities attacked by the Palestinian Arabs.

An incendiary kite flown Wednesday from the Gaza Strip by Palestinian terrorists caused a huge fire in the Be'eri Forest in southern Israel that continued to rage into the evening. No casualties were reported. The conflagration is the biggest to have erupted since Palestinians in the strip began flying the incendiary kites across the border. By 7:30pm, the fire continued to slowly reduce hundreds of dunams of woodland to ash, as ten firefighter teams scrambled to contain it, battling high temperatures, dry weather and strong easterly winds that fanned the flames. Incendiary kites are the latest improvised weapon to have been added to the Palestinian rioters' arsenal as part of the weekly "March of Return" protests on the Gaza Border, enabling Palestinian rioters to wreak havoc on Israel's southern towns without approaching the border fence and risking their lives.  Around three to four of the kites are sent across the Gaza-Israel border each day, and have so far incinerated agricultural lands in Israel's southern region, with wheat fields being set aflame and ecological damage caused to the country. 
Shedding some dim light on the state of mind of the pyromaniacs, images of Gazan kites (like the one below) festooned with Nazi swastikas accompany many of the reports.
Image Source: AP
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court - the treaty that established it and entered into force on 1 July 2002 - defines destroying the environment, even if no one is killed, as a war crime. In September 2016, the ICC prosecution issued a policy directive stating that it would place a special priority on prosecuting war crimes against the environment, something it had never done until then.

Hard not to notice the tone of pride and enthusiasm as certain media outlets report on the incendiary attacks by Gazan Palestinian Arabs. "Palestinian ‘Fire Kites’ Spark Huge Blaze in Zionist Settlements near Gaza Border" [Al Manar, May 02, 2018] for instance, and "Flaming kites mark fifth Friday of Gaza protests" [Mondoweiss, April 29, 2018].

Almost as if burning down the neighhbours' crops - or setting mountains of rubber tires ablaze and generating carcinogenic smoke and fumes - will get the attackers a better life. 

Sunday, May 06, 2018

06-May-18: Explosive weekend in Gaza

Shortly after Saturday's explosion [Image Source]
The terrorists of Hamas are expressing fury over two fatal Gaza events involving their agents in the past 24 hours.

Just before 3 this afternoon (Sunday), reports emerged of another infiltration attempt by armed and hostile Gazan Arabs into Israel. An IDF statement issued shortly afterwards, quoted by Times of Israel, said:
“A short while ago an IDF unit opened fire at three terrorists who tried to cross the security barrier from the southern Strip toward [Israeli] territory, and to damage security infrastructure in the area of the fence... Two of the terrorists were killed.”
There is confirmation from Hamas' Ministry of Health in Gaza - the highly problematic sole source of all reports about Palestinian Arab casualties in the course of the current Gaza Riots battles - that two Palestinians had been killed. At this stage, there does not seem to be any public information about the fate of the third thwarted infiltrator.
UPDATE 5:30 pm Sunday May 6, 2018: An updated Times of Israel report, quoting an updated IDF statement now says three Palestinian Arab infiltrators, part of a group of four, were killed in today's thwarted attack. There's no clear word yet on what happened to the fourth. It says: "The Israel Defense Forces said the men were found to be in possession of an ax, two bottles of lighter fluid, a lighter, a bolt cutter and a GoPro camera... From an initial investigation it appears the four-man cell arrived at the security fence in order to infiltrate into Israeli territory in an attempt to carry out a terror attack...” It appears the attack was an attempt "to damage the security infrastructure along the Gaza border or potentially attack IDF soldiers."
Yesterday (Saturday), there was a powerful explosion - whose cause is still the subject of back-and-forth contention - in the central Gaza Strip area:
Gaza's health ministry confirmed six people were killed on Saturday's explosion, with three others wounded in what residents said appeared to be an accidental explosion in the Zawayda area of the central Gaza Strip. The health ministry said the explosion may have been caused by the handling of explosives. In the past some explosions in the Gaza Strip have resulted from the accidental detonation of explosive materials belonging to militant groups. However a statement from the Palestinian Islamist group's armed wing insisted that the incident was a "deplorable Zionist crime". The Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Gaza's rulers, said the fatalities were members of their group and blamed Israel for the explosion but did not provide details or proof. The incident occurred during a "complex security and intelligence operation", the group said in a statement, calling it "serious and large security incident" and blaming the "Zionist enemy". The statement added that it was a "serious crime against our fighters". ["Six members of Hamas military wing killed in Gaza explosion", The National, May 6, 2018]
The video clip below, embedded in a Tweet [here]. captures some of the drama: 

---

A BBC report ["Gaza explosion leaves six Palestinians dead", BBC, May 5, 2018] said
The Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, military wing of the Hamas militant group, blamed Israel, but the Israeli military said it was not involved. A Palestinian source quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that the victims appeared to be members of Hamas... It is not clear what caused the blast in Deir al-Balah... The explosion could have been caused by the handling of explosives inside a building, the source added... Following Saturday's explosion, TV images showed a pillar of smoke rising near the coast. "The IDF (Israel Defence Force) is not involved in this incident in any way," an Israeli military spokesman said. Correspondents say explosions in Gaza in the past have been caused by Israeli air strikes, by feuding between Palestinian factions or by the mishandling of explosives by militant groups.
Whatever the cause, the dead have been claimed with certainty by Hamas. All six are said - by the terrorist organization - to be from its Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the so-called armed wing of Hamas. 

But to judge from how their images are being marketed in Palestinian Arab society today, there's some difference of opinion whether to have them viewed as (in our words) peaceful, rights-seeking ordinary protesters, as Palestine Chronicle appeared to be presenting them in this image posted a few hours ago [here]

Image Source
The accompanying text gives their untimely demise this context: "Saturday’s blast follows
weeks of protests along the Israeli-Gaza border as part of the Great March of Return movement
."
Or instead - the very same six as fierce warriors, heroes of their people and, as the Palestinian Information Center website terms them, "martyrs" of the notorious al-Qassam Brigades terrorist section of Hamas. 

Image Source: Palestinian Information Center website
The PIC report has this to say in support of its version:
Hundreds of Palestinians marched on Sunday in Gaza provinces for the funerals of six martyrs of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas movement. Al-Qassam Brigades said in a brief statement on Saturday evening that six of its fighters were killed during a "complex security operation" in al-Zawaideh town in the central Gaza Strip. Further details on the incident will be revealed later, the statement noted.
It gives the names of the dead terrorists as Mahmoud al-Ostaz, Wesam Abu Mahrouk, Taher Shahin, Mousa Salman, Mahmoud al-Tawashi, and Mahmoud al-Qishawi.

Times of Israel says Hamas, naturally enough, 
blamed Israel for the explosion, without providing details or proof. Palestinian media, by contrast, said it was a “work accident” — that is, that the terrorists were killed by their own explosives.
As we often do, we will go with the Palestinian Arab version - the one quoted in that last paragraph. Keep in mind that generally we don't get to see news reports in which Hamas owns up to its freshly deceased martyrs having been interrupted with extreme prejudice by the Israelis while they, the "resistance" fighters, were busy preparing themselves to do terrorism. Mostly we need to figure that out between the lines.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

01-May-18: Again, Shalit Deal 'graduates' are behind a major but thwarted Arab-on-Israeli terror attack

How close, warm and mutually supportive are relations between Turkey
and the terrorists of Hamas. Anyone's guess, really. [Source]
For those who adopt the somewhat conventional - but woefully inaccurate - view that the "moderate" Abbas/Fatah/PA regime controls the Palestinian Territories apart from Hamas-dominated Gaza, today's news might cause some confusion.

Three Palestinian Arabs from East Jerusalem were formally charged by prosecutors this morning (Tuesday) in the Jerusalem District Court with acting on behalf of the Hamas terrorist movement in plotting a shooting attack against Israelis.

The indictment reported in Times of Israel this afternoon names Naseem Hamada (who described himself to his interrogators as the group's leader), Izz al-Din Atun and Obeida Amira. Reports say all three are known to Israeli security before today for their ties to terrorist activities.

All three of today's arrestees are from the Sur Baher neighborhood of Jerusalem. They are charged with contact with a foreign agent, membership in a terrorist organization and conspiring to carry out a terror attack. (There's a fourth suspect, identified in the news report as A. A.; prosecutors have not yet reached a decision as to whether to file charges against him.)

The arrests came after Israel Police and Shin Bet became aware of the plan to open fire on IDF service personnel at a bus stop outside Oranit, an Israeli community close to Rosh Ha'ayin. A town of about 9,000 residents, it straddles the 1948 ceasefire line - the so-called Kav Hayarok or Green Line. It's located about 30 kilometers (say, 20 miles) from Israel's business center, Tel Aviv.

It emerged from the interrogation, as well, that 
Atun and Amira traveled to Turkey last year to visit Hamas figures Mahmoud Atun and Musa Azari [sic], who were exiled under the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, and received thousands of dollars to help fund the attack.
The name "Musa Azari" might be a mistake. We suspect it should have been Musa al-Akari about whom we posted this
In a conversation with Ynet, the terrorist's 16-year-old son, Hamza, said he looked up to his father's acts. "I'm proud of my father. I'm not sad that he died a martyr." The police agreed for the family to bury al-Akari at midnight in the presence of up to 35 people... The terrorist's brother is Musa al-Akari, a prisoner released in the Shalit deal and deported to Turkey. He was a member of the Hamas cell that murdered border police officer Nissim Toledano in 1992. Al-Akari, 38, a father of five from the Shuafat refugee camp, arrived at the Light Rail station in the afternoon and ran over anyone who crossed his path. He was shot to death by a border police team that was on site after he exited the vehicle and attempted to attack passersby. Hamas has taken responsibility for the attack. [Ynet. November 5, 2014]
The Atun brothers of Sur Baher have a long and deep history of terrorist activity. 
  1. In addition to Izz al-Din Atun indicted today, there are 
  2. Munir Marwat Atun and his brother the well-named Jihad Atun who were both arrested for being members of another terrorist/shooter cell seven years ago ["Shin Bet Nabbed Five Members of Hamas-linked Terror Cell in Jerusalem", Haaretz, April 8, 2011]. 
  3. A fourth brother, Mahmoud Atun was serving a life sentence in 2011 for murdering three Israelis, including (as noted above) Border Police Sgt.-Maj. Nissim Toledano, 29, in December 1992. After being incomprehensibly freed by Israel in the catastrophic Shalit Deal of October 2011, he's now one of the Hamas king-pins who freely orchestrate murderous attacks on Israelis from their Turkish safe haven.
Click here for the February 12, 2018 Haaretz report
We have focused some attention on the lethal Turkey/Hamas axis over the past six years but it generally gets far too little reporting. Here's some background reading - a small selection from a long list:
There's some background about that violent Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher here: "1-Dec-13: Living with stone-age neighbors".

Friday, April 27, 2018

27-Apr-18: On Jerusalem's southern edge, an overnight intercept appears to have thwarted an armed terror attack

The intercepted vehicle at the security checkpoint in southern
Jerusalem [Image Source: Israel Police]
We have little patience for critics of Israel who object to security checkpoints that inconvenience those going about their peaceful business. The problem with the objection, naturally enough, is that not everyone going about their business is peaceful.

This is especially - and importantly - true of the entrances to Israel's populated areas. Places like Jerusalem, the capital.

On Jerusalem's southern edge, in the general area of suburban Gilo and Malcha and the nearby Israeli community of Har Gilo, close to Jerusalem's famous Biblical Zoo and more or less on the outer edges of Bethlehem, there's a security checkpoint we know as Ein Yael, with a gorgeous public nature reserve and ancient historical site, the Ein Haniya natural spring and a hands-on museum for children. (Haaretz wrote about developments there in the past few weeks.)

B'Tselem, a far-left Israeli group, that deals in human rights violations, publishes an on-listing ["Checkpoints in the West Bank and Gaza"] which catalogues what you would expect from the name. Here's how it describes the checkpoint:
al-Walajah / Malha / ‘Ein Yalu
Permanently staffed Last checkpoint before Israel
Located on the Green Line. Staffed around the clock by the military, Border Police, and private security companies. Closed to Palestinians, with the exception of East Jerusalem residents.
In the very early hours of this morning (Friday), a little after 1:00 am according to this Hebrew social media report, members of the Israeli Border Guard (Mishmar Hagvul - the border security branch of the national police) did exactly what security personnel are supposed to do when everything works right: they spotted what they called a "suspicious" vehicle en route to Jerusalem right at the crossing. This one had yellow Israeli license plates, and on closer inspection was found to be driven by a pair of Palestinian Arabs who we now know are residents of Hebron and nearby Beit Jala.

Times of Israel says
Security forces arrested two West Bank Palestinians who tried to enter Israel with a pipe bomb Thursday night, police said. A statement from police said the “suspicious” vehicle carrying the Palestinians was stopped at the Ein Yael checkpoint in southern Jerusalem. A search of the vehicle yielded the homemade explosive device, a knife, and tens of thousands of shekels in cash and checks, it said. An army sapper was called to the scene to defuse the pipe bomb. The suspects were detained for questioning.
Israel National News, quoting  an Israel Police statement said
"Border Police soldiers and police officers are deployed around the clock in the Jerusalem area to locate and inspect vehicles and suspects in order to protect the lives of Israeli citizens."
The suspects have now been taken for interrogation. Neither they nor their weapons of war would have been intercepted if the checkpoint were not there (and they knew it was so they took an unsuccessful calculated risk) and the security personnel were less alert.

27-Apr-18: If it really means to tackle radicalism, the Kingdom of Jordan should extradite Ahlam Tamimi to the US

The US State Department announced a $5M reward on Ahlam Tamimi's head in January 2018 [Source]

His Excellency Dr Mohammad Momani,
State Minister for Media Affairs and Communications,
Amman, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Dear Dr Momani,

We know from very recent media reports that Jordan is currently navigating treacherous waters. Its economy is weak, prices are rising, incomes are not and government subsidies on bread and other essentials are being slashed or removed. Jordan's GDP per capita is barely a quarter of the world's average, roughly the same as Albania's. In 1965 (according to the World Bank), Israel's GDP was 2.7 times the size of Jordan's; today (IMF estimates for 2018) it's almost 7 times as large. The two countries have roughly the same size population and roughly equivalent resources.

We're hearing that the Jordanian populace are angry and the fury is growing. There have been riots over the prices of basic foods.

On top of all that, there's been an upsurge in grand larceny as this report from yesterday shows:
A series of armed bank robberies in Amman has rattled Jordan, with some activists blaming the country's rising crime rate on alleged government corruption and failed economic policies. Activists say increased taxes and food and fuel prices have eroded the savings and salaries of the country's poor, which has pushed some to resort to serious crime. Armed bank robberies are rare in Jordan, but Amman has recently seen four heists in branches of the Societe Generale Bank Jordan and Arab Bank - Jordan... Many Jordanians have since expressed seeming delight in the robberies on social media, in a reflection of anti-government sentiment... Activists say government policies were the main catalyst contributing to the increase in violent crime, something that was rare until recently. They point to the recent proliferation of violent street gangs, car thefts and drug trafficking rings that have dominated some sections of Amman with impunity... ["Jordan bank robberies rattle Amman, activists blame government", Al Jazeera, April 21, 2018]
While Al Jazeera speaks of four heists, you probably know the Jordanian media speak of a larger number ["6th bank robbery in Amman since start of year", Jordan Times, April 18, 2018]. This surely worries you and your ministerial colleagues.

The specific way you chose to address this problem caught our attention and made us want to get in touch. Here's the full text of a report we spotted in an independent Jordanian newspaper from a few days ago, quoting you:
AMMAN: Government spokesperson and State Minister for Media Affairs Dr Mohammad Momani condemned the sweeping sympathy for bank robbers on social media today, Thursday, and described sympathisers as criminals. During the Minister’s weekly appearance on Radio Jordan, every Thursday, he said that publically [sic] condoning criminal activity is a crime. The same goes in various countries around the world, he claimed. On Jerusalem, Mr Momani reaffirmed that Trump’s decision to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv is illegal and hurtful to the peace process... It feeds radicalisation as it only fosters frustration and desperation, he underlined. ["Gov’t Speaker: Sympathising with Bank Robbers is Crime", Al Ghad, April 19. 2018]
You make some good points here. But if condoning bank robberies is a crime, Mr. Minister, then what do you say about protecting and honoring an unrepentant killer of children - the woman we describe below? And how do you justify allowing her to spread a lethal message of ultra-violent bigotry from the safe haven of Amman, Jordan? Why is she still living free in your country and sheltered by your legal system?

We traveled to Jordan a couple of times before - but not after - our child's murder at the hands of a Jordanian woman in 2001. These were brief stays and we weren't tourists. The meetings we had were with impressive decision-makers and thought-leaders. We enjoyed the experience. But to be clear, we don't claim special knowledge of your country. On the contrary - much about it puzzles us.

To illustrate: you underline (using Al Ghad's words) that radicalisation "fosters frustration and desperation". That sounds right to us. For what it's worth as non-Jordanians, we would encourage you and King Abdullah II to keep radicalisation of Jordanians as much under control as possible. Radicalisation is a widespread problem right across the Arab world. But it's not without solutions, provided the government leads the way. 

Dr Momani [Image Source]
But then what Jordan is doing to lead the way doesn't seem very well-advised. How your country has dealt with Ahlam Tamimi, Mr Minister, illustrates the point dramatically.

There's no need for us to tell you that among Jordanians, she's a celebrity, a figure of huge admiration, who has appeared often in your media and has a high public profile. As you surely know, she shared a public platform with several Jordanian lawmakers and a former Jordanian prime minister just a few weeks ago [We documented it here: "05-Jan-18: In Jordan, the FBI fugitive Ahlam Tamimi pays tribute to her slapping/taunting/kicking Tamimi cousin"].

But this is an open letter. So we will explain to our readers that Mrs Tamimi is an admitted agent of the widely-outlawed jihadist organization Hamas, the first female to be recruited by them and – in terms of lives extinguished and grief inflicted – one of their most productive.

She boasts explicitly and often of the killings she masterminded and executed at the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem. She takes credit for choosing a site where significant numbers of children could be blown to pieces. Jewish children, of course; she makes clear that for her the conflict and the homicides are all about religion.

Tamimi faces Federal charges brought against her by the US government that were unsealed just a year ago, in March 2017. She is on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list with a reward on her head of $5M. Her extradition has been requested by the US government under the fully-in-force and undoubtedly valid 1995 extradition treaty your kingdom signed with the Clinton administration. By the way, several Jordanian felons have been extradited by Jordan to the United States since the treaty came into effect. Jordan and its courts pretend this is not so and journalists seem to be cowed into accepting the pretense.

For reasons most Jordanians understand and which your country's leadership obfuscates, Jordan says it will not hand her over to the US authorities. Tamimi herself understands how valuable your government's help has been to her and has publicly thanked the Kingdom of Jordan and its courts for this. She appreciates Jordan standing in solidarity with her. Her family has explicitly praised Jordan's judiciary - which of course is answerable to the king - for its "integrity, justice and patriotism" [source]. They recognize that they owe Jordan's leadership a large debt of thanks.

One might hope that there are large numbers of Jordanians who are sickened or at least embarrassed by this, Not so much, it appears. For the past several years and up to today, we and several Jordanian friends check the Jordanian media closely and have not yet found a single instance of a Jordanian official or judge or religious leader or political commentator distancing your country from the horrific slaughter which turned Ahlam Tamimi into a Jordanian hero. We don't claim deep knowledge of your country, and if there is outrage over the admiration she attracts among Jordanians, please tell us.

We're left to wonder about all of this. Not one word of criticism in any part of your media. No public arguments. No evident self-examination. No dissent from the popular view that this homicidal sociopath is a champion of Jordan, a figure for your society's children to grow up and emulate.

Then there's the disturbing matter of one of your country's most admired educational centers, the Jordan Media Institute.

As the political official responsible for Jordan's media, you're surely aware of the matters we described here ["10-Dec-14: In the Arab world's most promising new journalism school, a passion for murder and hatred"]. Your government created a school for training a new generation of Arabic-language journalists along what were to be Western lines, and right there on their website those best-and-brightest budding editors and reporters declared that Ahlam Tamimi was their role-model.

That astounding, appalling veneration for a confessed mass-murderer of Jewish children remained on view and uncontradicted right up until we publicized it. We successfully persuaded several (not all) of its foreign supporters to back off and to discontinue their funding.

The school's response was to silently, without any public explanation or attention, take down the entire site and pretend the scandal never happened. We documented all of this in articles we published on December 11, 2014; January 11, 2015; January 16, 2015; January 19, 2015; January 23, 2015; and February 4, 2015

By the way, we tried to speak directly with the JMI. Our attempts to get into a dialogue with its leadership were rebuffed in a blunt, ugly and completely unacceptable way. For all anyone knows, the students who graduated from the JMI since 2015 have taken up positions in the Arabic language journalism industry fully committed to the idea that their professional role-model is a mass-murdering Jordanian female who is on the run from the US legal system.

What impact will that have on your plans to reduce radicalisation and counter all the frustration and desperation? Perhaps not much given that Jordan's press freedom is in such bad shape:
Jordan drops two places on World Press Freedom index | Jordan Times | Mohammad Ghazal | Feb 12, 2015 | 21:44 | AMMAN — Jordan has dropped two places on the World Press Freedom Index 2015, ranking 143rd among 180 countries, as the government said it will continue to develop media freedom in the Kingdom. The Reporters Without Borders annual index released Thursday showed that Jordan continued a decline in press freedom, as it was ranked 141st in the 2014 index and 134th in the 2013 index. At the Arab level, Jordan ranked 11th... Commenting on the report, Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammad Momani said: “We will continue to develop our freedom of expression.”
You are quoted there yourself, saying you will "continue to develop [Jordan's] freedom of expression". That was three years ago.

So how well did you do in the following years? Not too well. In the most recent index, Jordan is in 138th place - lower than in 2013, lower than in 2016. Jordan's press freedom is almost at the bottom of the world league... and sinking, as we wrote here.

Here's something else we wrote back then that deals directly with how to defeat radicalisation:
A society claiming to be at war with the terrorists and aspiring to "continue to develop" its "freedom of expression" and "media freedom" has to have a strategy that goes beyond self-aggrandizing press statements. It also needs to be substantially more upfront with the outside world - and with itself, it seems - about the lethal support for jihad that infects the ranks of key parts of its population, including some of the journalists whose future careers it is proudly hailing... ["13-Feb-15: Jordanian accuracy"]
It's still relevant today. 

We still hope and expect to see Jordan comply with its international treaty obligations described well here ["Pressure on Jordan: Refusal to extradite mastermind of deadly 2001 Sbarro suicide bombing in Jerusalem contravenes international law and agreements", Michelle Munneke - American University Washington College of Law, National Security Law Brief, October 28, 2017] and hand Tamimi over to the US so she can be brought to justice.

If Jordan's leadership is sincere about suppressing radicalism, it will share that aspiration.

Sincerely,
Frimet and Arnold Roth
Jerusalem

(A version of this open letter appeared originally in Times of Israel on April 23, 2018 under the title "Extradite Tamimi: An open letter to Jordan’s media minister". If you are a friend or acquaintance of the minister, please pass this along to him. He's sure to want to respond to us.)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

26-Apr-18: Terrorist who was intercepted trying to bomb the Jerusalem Light Rail is convicted

Jerusalem Light Rail (illustrative)
Jerusalem's mass-transit Light Rail system is one of the many settings in which, in the most ordinary of ways, Israeli Jews and Arabs - secular, religious, Haredi - come into close and entirely unremarkable contact daily. The popular tram system provides cheap and efficient commuter transport for all parts of Jerusalem's varied society, including Jerusalem's Arab quarters.

Which we think is precisely why it's been such an inviting target for terrorists with anti-Israel mayhem on their minds.

A frustrated, and little-reported, terrorist attack on the Light Rail two summers ago resulted in a conviction in Jerusalem District Court today. (There's very little coverage, at least so far, in any news channels of today's conviction.)

A Palestinian Arab student from Beit Ila, near Hebron, was stopped on July 15, 2016 while equipped with lethal weapons, en route to carry out a cold-blooded revenge attack on commuters. Had he succeeded, there's no doubt there would have been many Arabs among the victims, perhaps even Arabs from his own town.

Ali Abu Hassan, 20 years old at the time of the crime, was convicted today of attempted murder.

Times of Israel says the court found that the accused “planned to carry out a mass terror attack”. He had approached the city via the Arab community of Sur Baher (often written Tsur Baher) on Jerusalem's south side, intending to wreak “revenge for visits by tourists and Israeli Jews to the Temple Mount”.

The three pipe bombs in his possession were tied together to form a single large and powerful explosive that, as an added feature, was covered with nails and screws that had been dipped in rat poison. He also had two knives and a cell-phone in his bag.

The Light Rail is a constant microcosm of Jerusalem's varied
demographics [Image Source: Sliman Khader | Flash90
A Ynet report published on August 2, 2016 shortly after his arrest says the civil engineering student at Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron made and tested the bombs himself, setting off explosives in open areas in and around Hebron.

Evidently appreciating the risk to his own life, he left a will with a friend before setting out to commit the planned murders:
On July 17, near 9am, Abu Hassan arrived at the Jaffa Center stop, where he was observing passersby. It was then that he was spotted by a vigilant security guard who asked Abu Hassan to open his bag for inspection. The terrorist ignored the request, which led the security guard to restrain him by force while another guard took the bag.
The Jerusalem Post reported at about the same time that
during Ramadan in the summer of 2016, after seeing news websites and Facebook posts showing Jews entering the Temple Mount complex, he made up his mind to attack, kill Jews and become a martyr. According to a joint police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigation, Abu Hassan entered Israeli territory the day before the attempted attack through nearby Wadi Sur Bahir, and then changed his clothes into sportswear “to blend into the population,” police said. “The next day, during the early morning, he prayed in a mosque nearby, boarded a bus in Talpiot reaching the city center, and began to walk along the railway tracks on Jaffa Road until reaching the intersection of Jaffa and King George streets,” police said. “When he arrived at the light rail stop at Jaffa station, he began to explore the surroundings in order to find a place for the attack.” The joint investigation determined that Abu Hassan then observed the station from a nearby restaurant, and decided to target it after seeing many people boarding and exiting the train. Noting the suspect’s suspicious behavior, security guards stationed nearby questioned him and discovered he had three pipe bombs in his bag. They immediately placed him under arrest, and cleared the area of civilians... The light rail was shut down for over an hour, until the bombs were neutralized and the area cleared.
We can't help noticing that the spot to which this homicidal zealot gravitated - Jaffa Road where it intersects with King George V Avenue - is precisely where Ahlam Tamimi brought her human bomb in August 2001 when she attacked and destroyed the Sbarro pizzeria which once stood at that corner (a Ne'eman bakery/cafe is there now.) Our daughter Malki and 14 other innocent victims were murdered in that attack; a sixteenth victim remains unconscious all these years later.

We owe great gratitude to the constant vigilance of Israel's security personnel.

Monday, April 23, 2018

23-Apr-18: Bret Stephens on Israel's robust willingness to defend itself

Familiar scenes - from seven years ago [Image Source]
In a punchy New York Times column published this past Friday ["Jewish Power at 70 Years"], Bret Stephens starts out talking about a hate crime - with an intriguing twist - in today's Germany. But then he heads off in the direction of the Middle East and the challenges posed to Israelis by the people on the far side of our borders.

Here's a first extract:
On Friday, Palestinians in Gaza returned for the fourth time to the border fence with Israel, in protests promoted by Hamas. The explicit purpose of Hamas leaders is to breach the fence and march on Jerusalem. Israel cannot possibly allow this — doing so would create a precedent that would encourage similar protests, and more death, along all of Israel’s borders — and has repeatedly used deadly force to counter it. The armchair corporals of Western punditry think this is excessive. It would be helpful if they could suggest alternative military tactics to an Israeli government dealing with an urgent crisis against an adversary sworn to its destruction. They don’t. It would also be helpful if they could explain how they can insist on Israel’s retreat to the 1967 borders and then scold Israel when it defends those borders. They can’t.
He's right. We're old enough to remember the coordinated Arab assaults on multiple Israeli bordersseven years ago in conjunction with Naqba Day - May 14 and 15, 2011 and around the same time as the ill-fated and unfortunately-named Arab Spring.

A BBC report at the time ["Palestinian protests: Arab spring or foreign manipulation?", BBC, May 15, 2011] said the not-so-peaceful "protestors"
undoubtedly embodied the same kind of risk-taking, confrontational people-power ethos that has fired the revolts in many parts of the Arab world.
How did that risk-taking confrontation play out?


Lebanon
In Lebanon, some 30,000 people were pulled together by the organizers near Lebanon's Israel border and walked towards it just opposite the northern Israeli town of Avivim. Soldiers of the Lebanese army first fired into the air to deter them. But then, as they headed recklessly into and across a border minefield throwing stones towards the Israeli and shouting into the hills for a "right of return", the Lebanese forces shot at them with assault rifles and tear gas. Before the retreat was completed, 11 participants were dead and about 100 injured.


Egypt
On the Egyptian border, thousands were reported to about to make their way from Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other points of origin toward the Rafah crossing with Gaza. But the military regime then in power intervened, warning bus companies not to answer the convoy organizers' requests. The few buses that did set off were stopped by the military and in the end, according to Ma'an, only some 80 individuals equipped with flags and an arsenal of angry demands and slogans got to the border. 


Fatahland
According to Wikipedia, around 300 West Bank "protesters" assembled at the Qalandiya Crossing - a busy crossing point - to demonstrate, forming human chains, staging sit-downs, hurling rocks. About 120 were said to be affected by tear gas, stink-spray and other crowd-dispersal means. BBC: "Clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint in Ramallah continued for hours, with dozens of Palestinians injured. Palestinian protesters threw stones at Israeli security forces, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets."


Jordan
In Jordan, about 500 Palestinian Arab Jordanians were prevented by Jordanian army and police forces from doing harm at the Allenby Bridge, the major crossing point into the West Bank and Israel. They used tear gas and other similar tools and some 25 people were reported injured, including 11 Jordanian police. A Ma'an report said the Hamas-aligned Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and what Ma'an called "the powerful Islamic Action Front" termed this "shocking" and turning reality on its end demanded "an end to such policies that have harmed Jordan's image". 


Syria
On Israel's Syria border, 20 buses of "protestors" arrived from Damascus on Naqba Day, May 15, 2011. According to the BBC, the IDF said it "had only fired warning shots as a large number of protesters tried to breach a border fence near the village of Majdal Shams. But reports said at least two people had been killed and dozens injured. Israel's army says this is a "serious" incursion. Brig Gen Yoav Mordechai said soldiers were still trying to control the crowds and that dozens of protesters had crossed. The army has reportedly sealed off Majdal Shams and is carrying out house-to-house searches for "infiltrators"... "We are seeing here an Iranian provocation, on both the Syrian and the Lebanese frontiers, to try to exploit the Nakba day commemorations," Gen Mordechai said... Syria denounced Israeli actions in the Golan Heights and Lebanon as "criminal", Agence France-Presse news agency reported. "Israel will have to bear full responsibility for its actions," the foreign ministry said." The NY Times said "some 13 Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded from thrown rocks." And Ynet, quoting an IDF enquiry, said "nearly 1,000 Syrians approached the fence, with Syrian border forces unable – or unwilling – to stop them. About 300 protesters, including children, rushed the fences and crossed over onto Israeli soil..."

Some weeks later, those May 2011 events in Syria were revealed to have actually been planned ahead of time by the Assad regime. This is all documented in an expose ["Report: Document Reveals Nakba Day Clashes Planned by Syria Government", Haaretz, June 14, 2011]. The bused-in attackers had attempted to breach Israel's border which was the plan. The Haaretz report quotes a Syrian government memo: "Permission is hereby granted allowing approaching crowds to cross the cease fire line (with Israel) towards the occupied Majdal-Shamms, and to further allow them to engage physically with each other in front of United Nations agents and offices. Furthermore, there is no objection if a few shots are fired in the air." There are clear parallels with what's happening now on Israel's Gaza frontier.

Then in June 2011, again on the Syria side of its border with Israel, large numbers of assailants purporting to "protest" were again bused in from Damascus. A Jerusalem Postreport quoted Syrian officials saying 23 were killed and 350 injured "as they attempted over the course of several hours to breach the barbed-wire border".
...

The Bret Stephens essay dwells as well on the intriguing case of Adam Armoush. Thought, when the story initially emerged, to be a young German Jew, he is in reality a 21-year-old Israeli Arab living in Germany 
who, on a recent outing in Berlin, donned a yarmulke to test a friend’s contention that it was unsafe to do so in Germany. On Tuesday he was assaulted in broad daylight by a Syrian asylum-seeker who whipped him with a belt for being “yahudi” — Arabic for Jew. The episode was caught on video and has caused a national uproar... There were nearly 1,000 reported anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin alone last year...
Stephens then connects Israel and Europe:
To be Jewish — at least visibly Jewish — in Europe is to live on borrowed time... There’s a limit to how many armed guards can be deployed indefinitely to protect synagogues or stop Holocaust memorials from being vandalized... There are many reasons to celebrate the date [of Israel's 70th anniversary a few days ago], many of them lofty: a renaissance for Jewish civilization; the creation of a feisty liberal democracy in a despotic neighborhood; the ecological rescue of a once-barren land; the end of 1,878 years of exile. But there’s a more basic reason. Jews cannot rely for their safety on the kindness of strangers... Hence Israel: its army, bomb, and robust willingness to use force to defend itself. Israel did not come into existence to serve as another showcase of the victimization of Jews. It exists to end the victimization of Jews... Though not Jewish, Adam Armoush was once one of the nonchalant when it came to what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. Presumably no longer. For Jews, it’s a painful, useful reminder that Israel is not their vanity. It’s their safeguard. 
Well said.

Friday, April 20, 2018

20-Apr-18:"Moderate" Palestinian Arab president-for-life rolls out red carpet for a murdering "Fatah knight"

Image Source: Times of Israel
While Palestinian Arab extremism is currently being driven from Gaza, and along with it the bulk of media attention from the Arab world and more broadly, the envious Fatah factionists of the Palestinian Authority are not far behind. And constantly on the look for opportunities to grab some of the limelight.

Mahmoud Abbas, who in addition to regaling in the title of president of the Palestinian Authority heads Fatah, features in a Times of Israel news report that shines some light - or perhaps it's more appropriate to say darkness - on how the moderate strain of Palestinianism views the cold-blooded murder of Israeli civilians.

The report describes the gala welcome-home reception bestowed on Rajaei Haddad. He recently completed serving a 20-year sentence in an Israel prison for murder. Naturally, he's hailed in their circles (literally) as “a leader, a hero, and a fighter.”

Palestinian Authority TV showed footage of the meeting between Abbas and Haddad, who spent two decades in prison for his role in the November 1997 murder of yeshiva student Gabriel Hirschberg הי"ד in Jerusalem's Old City of Jerusalem.

Here's how the terrorist murder was reported in the New York Times
At about a quarter past midnight, Mr. Hirschberg, 26, was walking with a friend in the dark alley when a gunman believed to be a Palestinian militant sprayed them with automatic weapons fire. Both of the students were unarmed and unaccompanied by the yeshiva's security guards or border police who guard the area. 
Mr. Hirschberg, an immigrant from Hungary, was killed; his friend was badly wounded. (Initial reports said the second man also died.) The police said the weapon used was an AK-47 assault rifle. No arrests were reported, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility... 
In the alley where Gabriel Hirschberg was cut down by a burst of automatic weapons fire early today in Jerusalem's walled Old City, four of his fellow yeshiva students held a study session opposite a makeshift memorial of Israeli flags and a candle. Bent over religious books, the students from the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva -- run by a right-wing group that has been buying homes in the Muslim quarter and elsewhere in East Jerusalem -- recited their lessons as Palestinian schoolgirls walked by warily, averting their eyes. 
''This is to wake people up,'' said one of the yeshiva student, sitting near a bullet-scarred wall. ''Something happened here.'' ["A Jew's Slaying Fuels Tensions in Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter", NY Times, November 21, 1997]
On April 10, 2018, the PA's official television station aired a report on the festivities surrounding the convicted murderer's return to Palestinian Arab society. It emphasized, according to the Times of Israel report, 
that our leadership gives top priority to the issue of our prisoners. "The president asked me about each and every one,” Haddad said. 
It also mentions - quoting an Arabic language report translated to English by the MEMRI Middle East Media Research Institute - that the gala event, held in Jerusalem, was graced by the presence of senior members of Fatah, the dominant faction in the ruling Palestinian Authority.

Some nauseating violence-adoring quotes worth noting:
  • The convicted murderer: "The president [Abbas] asked me about each and every one. Let me thank the president for this meeting – he cleared his schedule so that we could meet immediately after my release. We sat together for a full hour, and he listened to me. He asked me about the prisoners, listened to me, and wrote down everything. The president sends his regards [to the prisoners]. He heard what I had to say."
  • “First, let me salute our prisoners who are languishing in prison,” said Fatah Revolutionary Council secretary Adnan Ghaith, “Here, in our capital of Jerusalem, our people welcome a leader, a hero, and a fighter, who sacrificed 20 years for the sake of Jerusalem, Palestine, and our great people.”
  • Fatah said the celebrations were intended to send a message to the Israelis that the issue of prisoners and “martyrs” was non-negotiable.
  • “I am very happy to join the people of Jerusalem, our eternal capital, in welcoming this Fatah knight, who spent 20 years in the prisons of the Israeli occupation, in defense of our land, our people, our independence and our freedom,” said Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Moheisen. “This (event) is a message of loyalty to the prisoners, the heroes. It is also a message to the occupation that the issue of the prisoners and martyrs is where we draw the line.”
To remind ourselves of the unbridgeable gulf between us and the blood-lusting thugs arrayed against Israeli society, a brief video clip from the November 1997 funeral of Gabriel Hirschberg of blessed memory:


As far as we can tell, there was trivial-to-no news reporting coverage (other than in Israel) for the public honoring by our peace partner of this unrepentant murderer of Israeli civilians.

May Gabriel Hirschberg's memory continue to be a blessing for the people of Jerusalem and Israel.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

17-Apr-18: Remembering and redeeming [VIDEO]

Exactly three years ago, Arnold Roth was a keynote speaker at the Toronto Jewish community's commemoration of Israel's 67th Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut) and the day that precedes it each year - Yom Hazikaron, Israel's national Memorial Day.

In that April 2015 speech, Arnold reflected on what some consider the strangeness of a day of deep sadness being bracketed closely with national jubilation.

His speech, under the title Remembrance and Redemption, is the subject of the video embedded below.


In it, he touches on the song that Malki, our murdered daughter, composed in the last year of her life: several versions of it, all freely downloadable, are here, along with some of the background to its creation and aftermath.

He also shared aspects of a not-so-pleasant experience - as Israel's representative - addressing an international conference on terror and its victims, convened in New York City by the Secretary General of the United Nations in 2008. (A Haaretz report of that conference and of Arnold's speech is here.) That speech is the source of the audio track accompanying a short introductory film clip that was shown to the audience in Toronto and which takes up the first 4m 20s of the YouTube video clip.

[Sincere thanks to Mizrachi Canada for their permission to show this selection from their longer video recording (online here) of a memorable night of communal introspection and celebration.]

Sunday, April 15, 2018

15-Apr-18: On Israel's violent Gaza border, a battle of narratives

Friday's action on the Gaza side [Image Source]
We're into Week 3 of the Hamas-driven violence on Israel's Gaza border. And despite some serious efforts by Al Jazeera and others to "keep it in the forefront of the Arab public agenda" [Washington Post, April 13, 2018], the signs are that those Gazan riots do
not dominate the Arab media to the extent one might have expected. The events erupted in the middle of a crowded regional political agenda. In previous Arab-Israeli crises, popular Arab media outlets would have typically broadcast wall-to-wall coverage accompanied by furious talk shows and mobilizational programming, drowning out all other issues. This time, while most Arab media did cover the Gaza protests and subsequent violence, many key outlets covered it as one issue among many. These changes are rooted in fundamental alterations in the structure of the Arab media and the underlying political conflicts that have evolved since the 2011 Arab uprisings... [Washington Post, April 13, 2018]
Official Israeli sources are said [here for instance] to believe there is a gradual decrease in the number of Gazans participating in the "protests". And there are signs of news media weariness - even in the Arab world - with how Palestinian Arab "victimhood" is being milked in these staged Gaza border events. Here's an illustration.

It's not usually recognized by news consumers far from the scene but those reports of Arab casualties - the dead, the wounded on the Gazan side - always emanate from the Gazan Ministry of Health. Sounds reasonable, right? And would they lie?

But that ministry is an operating arm of the terrorist organization called Hamas. The name is an acronym based on Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah whose English translation is Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas is a Palestinian Arab Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organization which was formed by and remains affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mid-afternoon today (Saturday), this report was published by one of the Palestinian Arab news agencies:
Four people were killed and others injured on Saturday in an Israeli artillery attack targeting a group of citizens who were riding a three-wheeled tuk tuk motorcycle east of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses and a medical source in Rafah said that Israeli artillery shelled the eastern border of Rafah targeting a group of young men who  were moving rubber tires near the eastern border of the city. Dr. Ashraf al-Qadra the spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Gaza said that 4 Palestinians were  killed & several others wounded  in different Israeli shelling, pointing out that the martyrs and injuries arrived to  Abu Yousef al-Najjar hospitals. ["Four Palestinians were killed in Israeli artillery shelling east of Rafah", Palestine News Network, April 14, 2018]
Ma'an News Agency's version
And this version from the notorious Ma'an News Agency:
Four Palestinians were killed and others injured after Israeli artillery shelling targeted an auto rickshaw in the city of Rafah, in southern Gaza Strip, on Saturday afternoon. Locals told Ma’an that Israeli artillery stationed along the border with Gaza fired missiles at the auto rickshaw, killing four and injuring other passers-by. The four slain Palestinians were identified as Amjad Qartous, 18, Ayed Hamaydeh, 23, Hesham Kallab, 18, and Hesham Abdul-Al, 22. All four victims are from the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah...  Despite widespread outcry from international rights groups who have condemned Israel’s excessive use of forces against the civilian protesters, Israeli has maintained its open-fire rules for the Gaza border. ["4 Palestinians, 2 teenagers, killed after Israeli artillery fire targets auto rickshaw", Ma'an, April 14, 2018]
Turns out this is not, in reality, another case of Israeli artillery liquidating innocent and unarmed Palestinian Arabs - two teenagers! - going about their ordinary weekend activities.

From Arab media April 14, 2018, the Al Quds Brigade
(Islamic Jihad) "accidental martyrs" [Image Source]
The IDF (according to this source today) usually declares military strikes on the Strip but said today that "contrary to reports" it had not carried out any military activity in Gaza at the time. Now a Times of Israel report this evening explains:
Palestinian terror organization Islamic Jihad said Saturday that four of its members were killed in an accidental explosion near the Gaza Strip border with Israel. The group said in a statement that the four died during “preparations,” without giving further details. Army Radio reported that the terrorists were killed while carrying explosives in an all-terrain vehicle, suggesting the blast may have been a “work accident.” AFP said they were riding a tuk tuk vehicle which exploded a few hundred meters from the border with Israel. The four fatalities were named as Hisham Abdel Al, Elias Al Katrous, Ae’d Al Hamaydeh, and Mohammad Al Krinawi, according to Palestinian sources. Islamic Jihad is an ally of terrorist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. The group, which is supported by Iran, has fought alongside Hamas against Israel in multiple wars, most recently in 2014. ["Four Islamic Jihad members killed in Gaza explosion", Times of Israel, April 14, 2018]
(There's nothing unusual in the names of the dead Palestinian Arabs being different from one account to another.)

Some aspects of what was reported about yesterday's (Friday's) chapter in the planned six-week-long agitation on the Gaza side of the Israel border
  • "One Palestinian, Ahmed Hirzallah, 28, was shot dead and 416 others were injured" [Palestine Chronicle, April 13, 2018]
  • "One Palestinian was declared dead after being shot by Israeli gunfire Friday evening. Another 968 were wounded as another day of clashes erupted between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli forces along the Israel-Gaza border. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza identified the 28-year-old as Islam Rushdi Hirzallah..." [i24News.tv, April 13, 2018]
  • Israel once again "used extreme violence to brutally crush these peaceful protests... More than 900 Palestinian protesters were wounded in the violent Israeli crackdown, according to Gaza health officials... During the April 13 protest, the violence was once again clearly premediated. Media reports noted that, in advance of the peaceful demonstration, the Israeli military had deployed tanks, drones, and snipers to the border.Israel has claimed that the peaceful protests, which are known as the Great March of Return, are being used to cover up so-called terrorism. However there is no independent evidence that Palestinian demonstrators have used the demonstrations to launch any attacks." ["Israel Mows Down Unarmed Gaza Protesters for 3rd Week as US Blocks UN Investigation", IMEMC, April 14, 2018]
  • "At least four Palestinians were killed in Gaza Saturday, Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed saying the deaths were the result of a tank shell attack by Israel’s Army just east of the city of Rafah. However, Reuters reported an Israeli military spokesman saying “we have no knowledge of any Israeli strike in the area,” denying involvement. Local residents told Reuters the four men were members of the Islamic Jihad group, but this hasn’t been confirmed yet." [Telesur, posted this afternoon]
  • "The “Great March of Return” protests that Hamas and Gaza activists launched on March 30 saw their lowest turnout in three weeks and the smallest number of casualties in clashes with Israeli forces, with one Palestinian killed and 528 reported injured on Friday. Israeli authorities have been steadfast and on message about the protesters being a cover for violent action, while Hamas and the local activists have attempted to keep up the momentum. The proportion of those injured by live fire has declined by half, indicating a major reduction not only in the size of the protests but the level of violence along the border... [On Friday] the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza published a list of casualties from the past two weeks, stating that 3,078 Palestinians had been injured, including 1,236 from live ammunition. It claimed four people had lost legs. Of those injured 445 were under 18 and 152 were women. Thirty had been killed. It also said 30 paramedics had been injured and 14 journalists... ["Three weeks: How Gaza's mass protests are failing to make an impact", Seth Franzman in Jerusalem Post, April 14, 2018]
It's unlikely the Hamas organizers of this campaign are going to allow it to dwindle into insignificance. Unfortunately since the tools at their disposal tend to be limited to focusing on violence and generating human losses on their side (on our side too but that's less in their control), there's no basis for breathing more easily at this point.